NASSAU, The Bahamas – Many Bahamians were applauded today — National Heroes Day – for notable service to country.
His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, Governor General and Chancellor of the Societies of Honour, conducted an Investiture and Presentation of National Honours to some 200 individuals in a ceremony held at Baha Mar Convention Centre, Monday, October 10, 2022.
The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, delivered the keynote address. He also spoke at a second ceremony, held Monday evening due to the large number of honourees.
“On behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas, I have accepted this invitation from the Governor General to pay special tribute to the recipients of the 2022 National Honours during this series of investiture ceremonies,” said the prime minister before scores of high level government officials, family members and well wishers.
“I am indeed humbled and grateful to bring remarks on this most auspicious occasion as we celebrate these outstanding Bahamians whose work and contributions to national development have helped shape The Bahamas,” the prime minister said.
Receiving the highest honour – The Order of The Bahamas were: the Hon. Philip Bethel, Companion; Dr. Gail Saunders, Companion; the Rev. Dr. Michael Symonette, Officer; Rupert Roberts Jr., Officer; George Myers, Member; and the Hon. Mr. Justice Joseph Strachan (Retired), Member. There were 11 who were awarded The Order of The Bahamas, posthumously. Other categories of awards presented were: The Order of Distinction and The Order of Merit.
The prime minister observed that each of these honourees has a unique and important story that is interwoven in the fabric of Bahamiain history.
“It is in peering into the past that we recognize our own strength and draw courage to press forward into an ever-uncertain future.
“Our story is the story of Pompey, an enslaved man, who in 1830 rallied his fellow men in a valorous display against an oppressive power. Thirty-nine lashes and one hundred and ninety-two years later, we sit here, free, and sovereign,” he said.
The prime minister then noted some of the defining moments in Bahamian history and the names of trailblazers who helped shape and develop this country.
There was the Burma Road Riot of June 1, 1942 – demanding fair and equal pay; and “heroes” such as Sir Lynden Pindling, Dame Doris Johnson, Robert Love, Sir Randol Fawkes, Stephen Dillet, Dame Ivy Dumont, Dame Janet Bostwick, Sadie Curtis, Dr. Keva Bethel, Cleveland Eneas, Kimbo Slice, Tony Mckay, Joseph Spence, Amos Ferguson, Thelma Gibson, Sister Annie Thompson, and Anatol Rodgers, among others.
“These are our heroes,” the prime minister stated. “These 200 Bahamians honoured today represent but a small fraction of those who’ve lent their strength to the building of this great nation. These women and men truly embody the good, the righteous, and the worthy. Some of them, like the four brave Marines who lost their lives working in defense of the fledgling Bahamas forty-two years ago, serve as enduring reminders of the courage, tenacity and fortitude that make a hero. These honourees stand as stalwart pillars of our community—and today, we lift them up in the highest gesture of gratitude.”
The prime minister commended the efforts of the Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Loretta Butler-Turner, Freddie Munnings, Father Sebastian Campbell, Athama Bowe, the late Terence Bethel, and all those whose efforts he deemed indispensable in making this event possible.
In this vein, he also recognized the honours committee in San Salvador who organized and executed the Wall of Honour ceremony and banquet this past weekend. “This, we should replicate across The Bahamas,” he said.
“My government is grateful for their leadership, vision, and hard work,” added the prime minister.