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Reconnect with heroes



10 a.m. Acting Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Senator Patrick Todd, will deliver official remarks at the National Heroes Day Thanksgiving Service, at the Western Light Church of the Nazarene, Oxnards, St. James.



Barbados will observe National Heroes Day this Sunday, April 28.

On that day, a National Heroes Thanksgiving Service will be held at the Western Light Church of the Nazarene, Oxnards, St. James, beginning at 10 a.m.

Acting Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Senator Patrick Todd, will deliver the official remarks on this occasion.

Later that day at 3:30 p.m., the public is invited to participate in the annual Season of Emancipation National Heroes Tour of Historic Bridgetown. This excursion is organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in collaboration with the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and the Commission for Pan African Affairs.

It will start at Heroes Square in The City, and journey to various sites in the Historic Bridgetown property, in an attempt to retrace the experiences of the island’s heroes in the nation’s capital.

The tour will be conducted by local author and historian, Morris Greenidge, as well as, Deputy Director of the Barbados Museum, Kevin Farmer.

Admission is free.


The above notices from the Barbados Government Information Service sum up the nation’s official programme for Heroes Day 2013 — formally recognised yesterday, but as is the custom, “celebrated” today because yesterday was a Sunday.

For most Barbadians, we suspect, it was just another “bank holiday”, and they probably have no more interest in why we refer to such days as bank holidays than why we call this one National Heroes Day. It is quite sad, really, that as a country when a sense of nationalism is perhaps more necessary today than ever before, given what we now face, that our official programme is a church service and a Bridgetown tour.

We are not in the least bit knocking church services since we readily accept that if more of us would attend church and pay attention to the moral teachings that generally are synonymous with the Church, our society would be better off.

We are also not pouring scorn on the tour of Bridgetown, since there is a history there that if we all understood and appreciated, where we are at present would have more meaning and where we ought to be going would assume greater proportions in our day-to-day thinking.

But the service is taking place in a building designed to hold a few hundred worshippers, and the City tour will be conducted by a very able guide using a bullhorn. Neither could have been designed as an event of mass appeal.

So, our National Heroes Day programme was designed to exclude all but a handful of Barbadians. So what’s the significance of National Heroes Day? What were the intentions of those who introduced it? Is it serving the purpose for which it was started in 1998?

Perhaps more importantly, how many Barbadians can still name our ten National Heroes. We suspect that if we could answer that question, the number would not be one of which we could be proud. Again we are reasonably sure that an even smaller number would be able to say something about the exploits of the famous ten.

It is our view that there is a clear link between the lack of interest and limited knowledge of the exploits of Barbadians who have contributed so much to the development of our society — and we refer not just to our National Heroes — and the waning connection of Barbadians to the concept of Independence.

Like Independence Day, National Heroes Day has become just another day when there is no work or school and our beaches and national parks are the perfect places to be. Does it make sense having such a holiday as National Heroes Day when it means so little to so many? Why don’t we just retain the name but remove it from the list of legal holidays? Let’s all go to work and school — at least there would be a slight increase in national productivity!

But perhaps a better approach may be to keep the title and the holiday and come up with an annual programme aimed at reconnecting Barbadians with their heroes as a way of inspiring us all toward a greater sense of nationalism and pride in sacrificing a little of ourselves and what we own for the good of our brothers and sisters.

After all, every time the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, that legendary cricket figure, entered the field of play the pride of a nation and region settled over him. Likewise Bussa, Sarah Ann Gill, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Clement Payne, Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Sir Hugh Springer and Sir Frank Walcott all built solid reputations in the service of brother and country.

That’s the message that must be heard in every nook and cranny of Barbados every day, but especially on National Heroes Day. Our national programme must target all, not a few!

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