16th September, 2022
Today, National Heroes Day, we celebrate the people who made tremendous sacrifices to make our nation the great nation it is. Our twin-island federation, though small, has made outstanding contributions throughout the region and globally. Our national heroes were nation builders. Ordinary men of society who were dedicated to their cause and drive to better their communities and their country on a whole.
We must appreciate and be grateful for the legacy that our historical heroes have left for us today. We must never stop remembering the contributions they made. In order for our young people to take pride in the tenacity of our predecessors and be motivated to imitate their accomplishments, we must teach them about our country’s past.
Our national heroes are men of humble beginnings, shining examples of inspiration for our youth, that no matter your current circumstances, you have the power and capacity within you to accomplish greatness with the right focus, creative mindset, and willingness to redesign or transform yourself.
We celebrated our first National Heroes Day as a nation on September 16, 1998, in honour of the heroic Kittitian and Nevisian stalwarts who, through patriotism and resilience, sacrificed their lives through blood, sweat, tears, to ensure that we can enjoy our freedom as an independent nation and strive for our economic independence.
Our first national hero, The Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, was a man of humble beginnings who was raised by his grandmother in St. Paul’s, after his father, a blacksmith, moved to the United States when he was only nine months old. His mother was a domestic worker, a caretaker at the Factory. Despite his humble beginnings Sir Bradshaw was determined, ambitious and focused. When he injured his right hand in the machine shop and the doctors told him they would not be able to restore it, he didn’t allow himself to be defeated, instead, he refocused his ambitions to more academic pursuits.
Refocus, recreate, redesign.
It was this type of mindset that propelled him to become the leader we know today. The legendary man who fought for the masses who were poorly treated, became the first Premier of the Associated State of St. Kitts Nevis & Anguilla, fought for our right to vote, fought for equal rights and justice, spearheaded independence talks with the United Kingdom’s leadership in 1976 and 1977, and became known as the “Father of Independence”.
Today, we also remember Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell, our second Premier, First Chief Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and second National Hero who fought tirelessly for the rights of our people. In 1965, when the Sugar Industry employers, refused to grant an increase in wages, it was Southwell, in his role as Chief Minister, who ensured that legislation was enacted to draw money from the Sugar Cess Funds to pay for the increase, an initiative that was later emulated by Barbados and Trinidad. We are a small nation, but we do mighty things.
We must also remember Sir Joseph Nathaniel France, who was a strong trade unionist, and social and political advocate. Sir J N France was in the vanguard of every progressive movement that emerged to cater to the vulnerable people in this country. He fought tirelessly for better health care and way of life for the masses. It was his devotion to service to the people why he was honoured in 1967, when our general hospital was named after him, on account of his invaluable service in the field of health and other related areas.
We also honour our fourth National Hero, Sir Simeon Daniel, the first Premier of Nevis who received his honour as a National Hero in 2013. He was instrumental in improving the quality of life and well-being of the people of Nevis.
We recognize Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds who served as the first Prime Minister of our Federation and is the only living national hero.
Today we honour these men, whose legacies are proof that anything can be achieved through dedication. It only requires the time to refocus, recreate and redesign your life. Do not be discouraged by failures. Instead, see them as an opportunity to recalibrate, understand and improve your life. Make a conscious effort to see things differently; change your mindset. Redesign your life – choose to evolve, be fearless and determined. But never be afraid to be you. Your uniqueness is what will make the difference. We each have a special gift; take the time to learn what that gift is and how to use it.
As we celebrate National Heroes Day 2022, I reflect on those men and women who have not been granted the title of national hero, but who have contributed greatly to nation-building over the years. We honour you and we value you. Your hard work and dedication to your country have not gone unseen.
We must also recognize our modern-day heroes who have played significant roles in the development and betterment of our people and country; those persons who have inspired true patriotism through courage, innovation, and service. Today, on behalf of a grateful nation, I say thank you.
For the Star of Merit:
Awarded for long and meritorious service, or for loyal and devoted service to the Nation
- Eileen Grey — Education, Culture and Sports
- Dennis Richards — Education, Arts and Culture
- Lorraine Browne — Education
- Dr Lincoln Carty — Education
- Sylvester Charles — Education, Music, Sports and Volunteerism
- Violet Jones-Mawnlawde — Education
- Maxwell Bass Sr — Music and Security Services
- Nathan Esdaille — Education and Religion
- Wayland Vaughan — Education
- Shirley Kelly — Nursing Education
- Lorna Ava Henry — Culture and the Arts
- Pastor Lincoln Connor — Nation Building and Youth Development
- Elsie ‘Teacher Elsie’ Mills — Education and Religion
- Clement Juni Liburd — Broadcasting
- Lloyd Lazar — Education and Sports (posthumous)
- Kenrick Georges – Arts and Music (posthumous)
Medal of Honour:
Awarded for outstanding and meritorious service to the Nation
- Mable Morton — Community Service and Entrepreneurship
- Clyde Richardson — Music and the Arts
- James ‘Mickey’ Frederick — Performing Arts and Culture
It brings me great pleasure to bestow this honour to you. You have served your country well and I pray your lives continue to be an example and inspiration to all.
I look forward to the day when we as a nation recognize and salute our brave women who have brought about transformative change to our twin-island Federation, by esteeming them with the ultimate honour of National Hero.
Inside each of you, there is a hero telling you to cast your fears aside, telling you not to wait and see, but to believe in yourself and to go for it. Chase your dreams. Allow the legacy of our national heroes to inspire a revolution and an awakening of self-pride and consciousness, individually and as a nation.
Happy National Heroes Day.