I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. Isaiah 65:1
Today October 19, 2020 as Jamaicans we celebrate National Heroes Day 2020 under the theme, ‘Celebrating a Heritage of Resilience and Pride’.
Our national heroes are: Nanny of the Maroons, Samuel Sharp, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, George Williams Gordon, Paul Bogle, Norman Washington Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante
Over the years, I have used this holiday as a rest day, one usually spent in front of the television watching Netflix. For many other Jamaicans, it was, and still is, a time to go to the beach. Staff of some companies would book into hotels for the long weekend, traveling back home on the afternoon of National Heroes Day in preparation for work the next morning.
Today, for the first time in many years, I decided to watch the ceremonies associated with this day. This included, the wreath laying ceremony and the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards service. The Governor General, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and other top national dignitaries would visit the different shrines of our national heroes and heroine, to lay wreaths at each of them.
As I watched the proceedings, listening as the presenter reminded me of our rich heritage coupled with the true stories of many acts of bravery of our heroes”, I felt proud to be Jamaican. Stories such as the Christmas Rebellion led by Samuel Sharpe in 1831-32; the Morant Bay Rebellion, of 1865 led by Paul Bogle, the strength and determination of Sir Alexander Bustamante and his cousin Norman Washington Manley, rivals in politics, but united in one common cause, namely the freedom and wellbeing of a people…. Jamaicans. All these stories are reminders of who we are. We are Jamaicans. May we never forget our history.
Some of these heroes who fought so hard for our freedom, paid the ultimate price, their lives, while the soil of this nation received the blood of many of their followers. For the sacrifices they made, we are eternally grateful.
Today, we walk in the freedom they fought for, and we continue to fight on as a nation, because the blood of our ancestors flow through our veins. The words of Alma Norman in the poem Ballad of 65 rings true today:
Paul Bogle died but his spirit talks
Anywhere in Jamaica that freedom walks
Where brave men gather and courage thrills
As it did in those days in St Thomas hills
Our national heroes and heroin are dead, but today many heroes walk amongst us. Take some of those mentioned in the Prime Minister’s message to the nation today. He spoke of persons like George Jon-Andrew Bryan who today received an award for “an act of courage and bravery in saving the lives of two children on April 20, 2020, in Boston Portland; or District Constables Basil Fitzroy Fuller and Sean Conway Pierre who bravely fought raging seas in stormy weather and risked their lives to retrieve a stolen Police Boat from Honduras”. The boat was the property of the Government of Jamaica.
Many of our heroes today are unsung, but they are known in their communities and are well loved. For them, the work they do among the people is reward enough. There is no award or recognition more prestigious than the gratitude of the people they serve. Also, let us not forget our front liners at this time. Men and women, who continue to give of themselves in the face of COVID-19. Let us keep them in our prayer.
The question many may ask, are Jamaicans a perfect people? No!
I heard someone say that Jamaica is a difficult place for sociologist to study, because we are such a complex people. But do you know what, Jamaicans are pleased to be told such a thing. As a friend often say, “We nuh easy at all!”
God has blessed this nation, not only with natural beauty, but with a people who are unique, colorful and diverse. He has kept us over the years, turning away hurricanes from our shores in ways that messes with the minds of the educated. We are eternally grateful to the King of kings and the Lord of lords for we know that we do not deserve His mercies, but He extends it every day. Thank You Lord.
Please pray for our nation of Jamaica. May God continue to extend grace to her. May the watchmen or women upon the walls remain vigilant in their duties to this nation, and may we never forget the God who took us out of slavery, and have blessed us with a land known at one time as the Land of Wood and Water.
Happy National Heroes Day 2020!