Every nation you can imagine, including the Virgin Islands, has its history documenting its struggles and triumphs, but the history is incomplete if we do not document the great men and women who contributed to national development. I’m referring to the individuals who lived here and performed courageous and noble acts, outstanding and exceptional service that brought honour to the VI. Some of these individuals perhaps could have lived far more comfortably than they did but they denied themselves, and they are in danger of being forgotten. Many of them have no memorial. But as is said in Chapter 44 of the book Ecclesiasticus: These individuals were honoured in their generations and were the glory of their times. They should also be the glory of our times. We stand on their shoulders. We cannot allow them to be forgotten. In the words of Laurence Binyon, “In the morning and in the evening, we shall remember them.”
These venerable stalwarts should be declared our national heroes, even if it’s two or three of them to start. We cannot continue to build a nation without national heroes if we want to build a solid one! It is time that we unite this territory, select national heroes and declare a National Heroes Day!
I would like for the VI to set a unified social precedent for everyone who calls the VI their home which will promote collective consciousness and encourage the preservation of VI history. We must also embrace our diversity and support the cultural activities and traditions of this precious land.
Oftentimes we are taught about life through history. Many of us may have only read or heard tales of a heroic person in the VI. I believe our national heroes will help us find our way. They will help determine our behaviour and give guidance to the residents of the territory. Christopher Columbus by some means solidified himself in Caribbean history. H. Lavity Stoutt, who we recognise for his outstanding leadership and public service to this territory, will be on someone’s review list. Noel Lloyd’s heroic march may well land him on a national list too. Theodolph Faulkner, who shares credit for the start of our first constitution, may be considered a venerable stalwart. So could Dr. Willard Wheatley for his success at leadership and financial management in the national development of a young democracy and so forth.
However, I’m not at liberty to say who should be declared a national hero, but I make bold to say that a plot of land can be found in a central location which we can consecrate and dedicate a National Heroes Square.
This exercise will require each district to form a committee to identify persons with certain attributes and characteristics who residents believe should be declared a national hero through clear guidelines. This matter should be the people’s decision presented to the government of the day as to who we should celebrate. This is so important in a modern democracy that looks ripe with political division.
‘Things that matter’
I’m a firm believer in pursuing the things that matter, like investing in our children and young people, fixing our infrastructure, taking good care of our seniors, building stronger industries and so forth. However, nation building should be at the heart of any economic and community development plan for the territory. We truly deserve national heroes, a National Heroes Day and a National Heroes Square in the VI. Together, we can strengthen and unite the territory through our actions today.