The Cayman Islands honoured the contributions and sacrifices of the people who helped shape the country on Monday morning during the National Heroes Day ceremony in Heroes Square in George Town.
The event marked the first time since January 2003 – its inaugural year – that National Heroes Day has been recognised with a formal ceremony, partially because of Grand Cayman’s recovery from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Speaker of the House Edna Moyle, while reading the Proclamation to open the ceremony, said the event would become annual.
‘We the government and people of the Cayman Islands give notice of our determination today and on National Heroes Day in every year hereafter, to acknowledge with gratitude and pride the endeavours of our people, to pay tribute and respect to their sacrifices and to celebrate and honour their contributions and achievements,’ she said.
Other speakers during the ceremony included Governor Stuart Jack, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, and Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin, whose Ministry organised the event.
Mr. Tibbetts said it was very important for future generations of Caymanians to understand where they came from and what it means to be Caymanian.
‘We must preserve the important traditional values which underpin the Caymanian society as we are increasingly exposed to other influences,’ he said.
‘Today… we are inundated with signs, sounds and ideas from everywhere in the world.’
Mr. Tibbetts noted that although Caymanians welcomed people of many cultures, it was vital for Caymanians to retain a sense of their own cultural identity.
‘Don’t be afraid to be who you are,’ he said to Caymanians. ‘We are a unique people and our friendly manner and humour are worth sharing with everyone.’
Minister McLaughlin outlined the attributes of Caymanians that have made the country the success story that it is: faith in God, respect for authority, a belief in democracy, honesty, enterprise, resilience and courage.
‘These were the traits our seamen took with them when, as unofficial ambassadors of an unknown country, they ventured first into the wide world,’ he said.
‘Make no doubt about it, the attitudes and value system of our people have had more to do with the success of this country than any other single factor.
‘We too often take these thinks for granted, but hey are priceless. They are about who we are.’
Mr. McLaughlin also noted the contributions of those that have come to the Cayman Islands over the past 40 years.
‘Many of them can justly be called nation builders,’ he said. ‘Today, on National Heroes Day, we celebrate their contribution, too. Indeed, today two of those nation builders who came from elsewhere, but who are not Caymanian, are being conferred the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour and we are proud as a people to recognise their contributions to this country, in this special way, on this special day.
‘This is about who we are,’ he said again.
Those that received Queen’s Honours from the Governor during the event included Peter Phillips, Michael Flowers and Heather Bodden. In the future, Queen’s Honours recipients will have also have the option of receiving their awards on National Heroes Day.
Entertainment during the event was provided by the 31-piece Brass Band of Battle Creek. In addition, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Band performed, as did a combined school children’s choir.
Also during the event, the Cayman Islands Seaman’s Memorial Statue called ‘Tradition’ was rededicated in its new location in Heroes Square to recognise the 475 Caymanians that have lost their lives at sea during period of both war and peace.
Wreaths were laid by member of the Government at the Wall of Honour, while members of the public were allowed to lay wreaths or flowers near the Seaman’s Memorial.
After the ceremony, the public was invited to share in more entertainment and refreshments in Celebration Park on the other side of the Court House.