St. Kitts – Nevis Pays Tribute To National Heroes

St. Kitts - Nevis Flag Flying

The National Flag Flies Over A Free Nation

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 17, 2011 (CUOPM)

St. Kitts and Nevis paused Friday to pay tribute to its First National Hero and Father of Independence ““ the Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw.

September 16th each year is celebrated as National Heroes Day ““ the birth date of Sir Robert Bradshaw. Coincidently it is also the birthdate of the date Right Excellent Sir Joseph N. France. Bradshaw would have been 95 and France 104. The other National Hero is the Right Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell.

“We look back with grateful and humble hearts to say “Thank you” to these three men who saw much that was wrong, and fixed it. Who faced the mightiest of foes, but never wavered. And whose self-respect, tolerance, and compassion caused them to forever strive “for the good that they could do. We honour them today. Because of who and what they were, we now have the right to dream, to strive, to work and to be whom and what we wish to be. We thank them today,” said Prime Minister Douglas at a Guard of Honor and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Robert L. Bradshaw Memorial Park, in St. Paul’s the birthplace of Bradshaw.

Dr. Douglas, a cousin of Bradshaw and born in St. Paul’s too , highlighted the struggles and noted that it is so easy to take for granted all that these great men, these visionaries, these giants, did.

“It is so easy for us to lose track ““ from the safety and stability of full citizenship, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the comforts of full person hood, o forget and lose sight of exactly what these extraordinary men accomplished. But, take a journey back with me this morning, Imagine a time when almost every square inch of this beautiful fertile land, “from mountain to sea”, as they used to say, was owned by just 12 families,” Dr. Douglas told the audience which included the Governor General His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, Deputy Governor General of Nevis, His Honour Mr. Eustace John and Mrs. John; Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Sam Condor and Mrs. Condor, Cabinet Ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Hon. Curtis Martin; Resident Ambassadors; senior government officials and residents of St. Paul’s and other areas.

“Imagine a time when the children of this nation, from St. Paul’s to Cayon”¦”¦from Old Road to Molyneux”¦”¦from Irish Town to New Town and all points in between], no matter how brilliant, no matter how hard-working, no matter how curious and intelligent, no matter their intellectual potential were literally relegated to being hewers of wood and drawers of water. Imagine.

Imagine a time, Assembled Dignitaries and Guests, when the vast majority of our people were so poor, in this land that produced such great wealth”¦”¦wealth that these same people produced toiling in the cane-fields day after day”¦..that they literally could not afford a pair of shoes,” said Dr. Douglas.

He added: Imagine, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen. Because this was the St. Kitts and Nevis in which Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, and Joseph Nathaniel France among others lived and worked.

And this was the St. Kitts-Nevis that they set out, against great and seemingly overwhelming odds, to change.

We must imagine because it is only by imagining, and remembering, and it is only by re-living, in our minds, those difficult and dastardly times, that we can ever truly appreciate the courage, the bravery, and the dramatic ways in which the men we honor today changed St. Kitts and Nevis forever.”

Prime Minister Douglas continued: “It is only by forcing ourselves to look at the tremendous and treacherous mountain that they set out to climb, that we could ever hope to appreciate the full import of their having scaled – and stood tall – atop that forbidding and seemingly-unattainable summit. Most importantly, we travel back to a land called “Truth” today because failure to do so could result in the unpardonable sin of our forgetting exactly how we got to be where we are today ““ and exactly who put us there.”

He asked:  “How did Bradshaw, Southwell and France do it?”

“There was no network of telephones criss-crossing these islands to make communication possible.  The words “fax”, and “Internet” had not even been invented.  But I need not even be so advanced in my references.  The challenges were far more basic.  Even people’s ability to hop onto trucks or buses for meetings and mobilization, whenever they wanted, was at that time beyond the realm of possibility. Most importantly, let us remember that it was before the mighty British Government, that most powerful military, economic, and political force of the day”¦..that our three National Heroes bravely and unflinchingly stood. How, indeed, did they do it? It is clear to me, Ladies and Gentlemen, that their impact was due to the fact that they were men of character.  And among their strongest character traits was self-respect. Self-respect, as we know, refers to an innate sense of self-worth.  And the self-respect of these three outstanding men manifested itself in their awareness, their belief, and their conviction that no matter what the history books said, and no matter what the undemocratic society in which they lived said, they were men of ability, made in the image of God, and deserving of the same respect and the same opportunities that were, at that time in St. Kitts and Nevis, reserved for the very, very, infinitesimal, few,” noted Prime Minister Douglas.

He asserted that it is why the people of St. Kitts and Nevis are here today.

“And their struggle was fueled not by a desire to win recognition of their own individual capabilities.  They were concerned not only about their own individual advancement.  Instead, their struggle – long, difficult, and seemingly unattainable as it was – was fueled by their determination to assert, and win recognition of the innate worth of every man, woman, and child born on St. Kitts and to Nevis, regardless of race, class, or gender.  And they set out, despite the enormity of the task, determined to secure equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunities for all ““ under law. That is why we are here today,” said Dr. Douglas.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister said tolerance was another character trait that propelled their movement forward.

“Tolerance ““ which refers to the ability to endure pain or hardship.  And pain and hardship these men did come to know in great abundance.  For many who benefited from the then-status quo saw today’s National Heroes, not as persons committed to a righteous cause, but as persons who were utterly unworthy of the popular support that continued flowing towards them as the weeks and months and years went by. Indeed, so great was the displeasure over the ever-growing admiration for the men whom we honor today, that well-placed and powerful individuals went to great lengths to orchestrate their replacement”¦.to orchestrate the emergence of their own new and hand-picked “leaders” to represent the people. There was, indeed, a lot to tolerate.  But tolerate they did.  Persevere they did.  Push on they did.  For the greater good,” said Dr. Douglas.

“In addition to their non-negotiable self-respect, however, and in addition to their demonstrated ability to tolerate and withstand the slings and arrows associated with their cause, Messrs. Bradshaw, Southwell, and France were men of unquestioned compassion.

All clearly men of superior intellects, steely will, and great ability, they could clearly have used their inherent ability for the furtherance of their own interests only.  They could easily have found ways to align themselves with those who, at that time, controlled the levers of political, economic, and social power.  And had they done so, they would have benefited handsomely.

But this they did not do. This they could not do. And as a result, they and their sterling example today live on in our hearts and minds long after they ““ as physical beings ““ have left us,” said the Prime Minister.

He said Bradshaw, Southwell and France were men who were “well-read, all well-spoken, all able to hold their own in any setting, listened to the broken English of the labourers in the cane-field and knew that that broken English reflected, not a lack of ability, but a lack of opportunity.  And their compassion caused them to commit themselves, if they ever got the opportunity, to open wide the doors of this nation’s schools so that the children of those same workers of broken speech would be able to soar to heights their parents could not even begin to imagine. And this they did.”

“It is all interconnected.  This vast sweep of history. And so, the Honorable Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, the Honorable Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, and the Honorable Nathaniel France walk this earth no more.  Their voices we can no longer hear.  Their faces we cannot see.  But how they live among us!  How their efforts continue to bear fruit!  How the changes for which they fought are evident in all we see and do!” said Prime Minister Douglas.

“Bradshaw. Southwell. France. How did they do it? There was no network of telephones criss-crossing these islands to make communication possible.  The words “fax”, and “Internet” had not even been invented.  But I need not even be so advanced in my references.  The challenges were far more basic.  Even people’s ability to hop onto trucks or buses for meetings and mobilization, whenever they wanted, was at that time beyond the realm of possibility. Most importantly, let us remember that it was before the mighty British Government”¦.that most powerful military, economic, and political force of the day”¦..that our three National Heroes bravely and unflinchingly stood. How, indeed, did they do it? It is clear to me, Ladies and Gentlemen, that their impact was due to the fact that they were men of character.  And among their strongest character traits was self-respect. Self-respect, as we know, refers to an innate sense of self-worth.  And the self-respect of these three outstanding men manifested itself in their awareness, their belief, and their conviction that no matter what the history books said, and no matter what the undemocratic society in which they lived said, they were men of ability, made in the image of God, and deserving of the same respect and the same opportunities that were, at that time in St. Kitts and Nevis, reserved for the very, very, infinitesimal, few.

Most importantly though, Ladies and Gentlemen, [and this is why we are here today], their battle was waged not merely to assert their own, individual self-worth.  And their struggle was fueled not by a desire to win recognition of their own individual capabilities.  They were concerned not only about their own individual advancement.  Instead, their struggle – long, difficult, and seemingly unattainable as it was – was fueled by their determination to assert, and win recognition of the innate worth of every man, woman, and child born on St. Kitts and to Nevis, regardless of race, class, or gender.  And they set out, despite the enormity of the task, determined to secure equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunities for all ““ under law,” said Prime Minister Douglas prior to the laying of wreaths.


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