HONOURING OUR NATIONAL HEROESWednesday 30th November 2011
National Heroes’ Day is a public holiday in Antigua and Barbuda celebrated on December 9th. Every year on December 9, the people of Antigua and Barbuda celebrate the lives of the country’s heroes that by their example and significant contributions to the country have changed the history of Antigua and Barbuda for the better.
The date was chosen because it was the birthday of V.C. Bird, the first ever Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, was traditionally celebrated on December 9.
The objective of National Heroes’ Day is to bring forth in the memory of all Antiguans and Barbudan’s the memory of those fellow men and women that have in some way lead the history of the country forward toward a prosperous and fraternal Antigua and Barbuda. The day serves to rediscover these great persons and inspire new generations of citizens. The national heroes to be remembered each year are:
- Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, First Prime Minister and leader of the country into Independence from Britain
- Sir Vivian Alexander Richards, cricketer legend voted one of the five best cricketers of the century
- Dame Georgiana Nellie Robinson, educator and leader in education and protection for all children in the country
- King “Prince Klass” Court, leader of the slavery revolt that freed the country from slavery regulations
- Sir George H. Walter, second Premier of Antigua and Barbuda and advocate of full independence for Antigua and Barbuda from the British
The Right Honorable Doctor Vere Cornwall Bird Sr
, Antigua’s first prime minister.
Sir Vere Cornwall Bird was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 1981-1994. Although he lacked any formal education aside from primary school, his work experience in both the Salvation Army and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union sparked his interests in unionism and politics. He was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945, and became the founding member of the Antigua Labour Party. In 1994 he was declared a national hero.
One sure thing can be said of VC Bird, he loved Antigua and its people. This love drove him to enter the field of politics so that he could lobby for the people against the colonial landowners. His drive, conviction and passion for Antigua propelled VC Bird to assist in the independence process for Antigua in 1981. If it wasn’t for his passion Antigua would not be entering its 30th year of Independence.
Dame Georgiana (Nellie) Robinson
, Antigua’s lone female heroine.
At the mere age of 18, Nellie Robinson started her own school the T.O.R Memorial School. Nellie afforded local disadvantaged children a chance at secondary education, which was not available to them at the time. With a strong hand and firm conviction Miss Robinson was the headmistress of the still existing school from 1898 to 1950.
Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards
is by far Antigua’s most famous sports personality.
Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, known as the “Master Blaster,” was a champion cricketer for Antigua and Barbuda. Known for his forceful bating skills, he is arguably the greatest batsman of his generation. Richards received an honorary knighthood for his services to cricket, and was named in Wisden 2000 as one of the Five Cricketers of the Century.
In his career he played 121 test matches and scored 8450 runs collectively. Cricket lovers all around the world hold Sir Viv in high regard; hence he was voted one of the top five cricketers of the century.
Sir George Herbert Walter
was the second premier of Antigua & Barbuda.
In his short tenure from 1972-1976 Sir George managed to pass the Social Security and Labour Acts, which were adopted, by many Caribbean islands.
King Court Tackey (Prince Klaas)
can undoubtedly be considered Antigua’s most notable and indeed bravest hero.
In 1736 Klaas and three other slaves who were fed up of their deplorable conditions decided to plan an elaborate revolt against the slave owners. Unfortunately their plot was discovered and they were executed. In those days to even think of trying to take your fortune into your own hands was more than courageous.
The National Heroes’ Day is an opportunity to discover the lives of these heroes of Antigua and Barbuda and see the possibilities of the Antiguan and Barbudan identity.
There are official celebrations during the day, attended by politicians and celebrities, remember the national heroes in speeches and awards given to persons that have excelled as Antiguans and Barbudans. Most of the local people enjoy the non-working day with families and friends eating the traditional hot and spicy food of the islands.
"To our Antigua’s heroes we salute you for putting Antigua on the map, exhibiting sheer bravery or stepping beyond the bounds of the ordinary."
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