Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 16, 2016 (SKNIS)—Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that “National heroes cannot be pigeon holed by party political interests because their appeal, their impact must be broad, national and enduring.”
Speaking at the ceremony on National Heroes Day on September 16, 2016, at the new site dedicated and consecrated for the construction of the national heroes park, which is to be the home of all national heroes, Prime Minister Harris said that all of the country’s heroes must be honoured.
“Despite a growing number of awardees of our Federation’s most prestigious honour, there has never been a home for all of our national heroes. While an effort was made in 2007 to immortalise the contribution of the first national hero, the objective members of the national community stood askance – what about the others? Are they not worthy? Today we answer yes, yes, all national heroes, from the first to the last are worthy,” said Prime Minister Harris.
“If we were to subtract their contribution, a gargantuan void would result in the history, life and direction of our country,” he added.
The Federation’s five national heroes are a potpourri of three political parties.
The Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (1916-1978), affectionately known as “Papa Bradshaw”, was the first Premier of St. Kitts and Nevis who previously served as Chief Minister, legislator and labour activist. He was a champion for the masses, especially the working class (sugar workers), through his work with the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union where he became president. He was leader of the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.
The Right Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell (1913-1979), another trade unionist, was born in Dominica but later moved to St. Kitts where he was recruited into the Labour Movement and later rose to become Chief Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Right Excellent Joseph Nathaniel France (1907-1997), yet another trade unionist, was General Secretary for the St. Kitts and Nevis Trade and Labour Union. He was a representative in the National Assembly serving as Minister of Social Services under Chief Minister Paul Southwell. The general hospital in St. Kitts is named after him.
The Right Excellent Sir Simeon Daniel (1934-2012), a lawyer by training, was the first Premier of Nevis. He was among the founding members of a political party called the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) in 1970. His successor was the Hon. Vance Amory and present Premier of Nevis, after his party, The Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won the election in 1992.
The Right Excellent and the Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds (1936 to present) is the Federation’s first living national hero. A medical doctor by profession, Sir Kennedy is a founding member of the People’s Action Movement (PAM). He was the Premier of St. Kitts and Nevis from 1980 until the twin-island state gained independence from Great Britain on September 19, 1983. Upon Independence, he became the first Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and as such has been hailed as the “Father of the Nation.”
In acclaiming the work of nation-building done by the five national heroes, Prime Minister had this further to say:
“National heroes belong to the entire country and all the citizens of the country irrespective of their party political affiliations. They are celebrated as a country’s most outstanding and meritorious personalities, whose lifetime contribution to nation building, is stellar and incontrovertible in terms of their indelible impact on a country’s history, direction and development. These outstanding personalities stand taller than life. They tower high, dwarfing their fallibility, fragility and failings to be considered super beings among mere mortals who one day would return to dust.”
“Today we unite our country in commending not one hero, not two, not three, not four but all five as our beloved sons of the soil who, through sweat and toil, anguish and resilience, courage and ingenuity, climb the heights of honour that few will ever achieve. All have honoured us and all deserve our acclamation and salutation,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Several dignitaries and high-ranking officials of government and civil society witnessed the historic National Heroes Day wreath-laying ceremony which included a display and parade by the Guard of Honour comprised of personnel from the St. Kitts-Nevis Regiment and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
Some of those in attendance included Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory; Governor General, His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton; Former Governor General, His Excellency Sir. Dr. Cuthbert Sebastian; the Right Excellent and Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Osbert DeSuza; Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ian Queeley; Commander of the Defence Force, Colonel Patrick Wallace and Ambassadors representing the Republic of China on Taiwan, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Cuba; and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.