Today, as we have been doing for many decades, since 1969, we mark our National Heroes’ Day.
It is a day wherein we celebrate the strength, service and sacrifice of our national heroes, and importantly a day that calls upon us to look within ourselves and put into action our own heroism in the service of our country and our fellow citizens.
Jamaica needs heroes; our nation was built on the backs of our heroes, and if we are to continue our march towards, peace, progress and prosperity for our people, we must all answer the call to be heroes.
We need our society to be a place of heroes who do the right things, say the right things and live in the right ways that promote harmony.
As we acknowledge the need for more Jamaican heroes, we salute those who are already heroes among us- individuals and communities who rise above challenges, who lend a helping hand, who inspire hope, and who exemplify the true spirit of Jamaica.
- The many families who work together and raise their children with love, respect, and positive values.
- The many community members who look out for their neighbours and assist the senior citizens in their communities
- The patriots who refuse to give refuge to criminals and provide vital information that helps to apprehend them
- The single mothers and fathers who work tirelessly to provide for their children.
- The teachers who go the extra mile to inspire young minds.
- The young people who take charge of their own lives and take up opportunities like the HEART training Programme to advance themselves and secure a better future
- The citizens who care for the environment by properly disposing of garbage and planting more trees.
- The healthcare workers who care for the ill.
- The security personnel who put themselves in harm’s way to ensure our safety.
- The sanitation workers who work hard to keep our surroundings clean
- The firemen and women who go into a burning building to rescue fellow citizens.
- The children who assist their friends and colleagues at school who may be in distress.
Every one of you has made a choice to stand up for what is right, to make a positive difference and to be a beacon of hope for others. Every one of you is a hero, and today, Jamaica celebrates you!
We need heroes dedicated to uplifting our country by fostering meaningful dialogue, and not the sharing of and participation in destructive misinformation practices that create strife, discontent, discord and hostility in our society.
Our individual actions in our circle of influence whether it be among friends, families, churches, schools, clubs and groups, have a profound impact on our country as a whole. We cannot allow it to sink into moral, intellectual, social and economic depression we must choose to make it better through our daily actions.
This Heroes Day, let us not pay lip service to ourselves and to our country, let us no longer collectively commiserate about what’s wrong with Jamaica but rather let us resolve to work individually and collectively to create the Jamaica we all so desperately yearn to see. We have the capacity; we can all be heroes for Jamaica.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Norman Washington Manley, and Sir Alexander Bustamante, exemplify what it means to be a hero and we must reflect often on their legacy which calls on us to be the architects of positive change, the guardians of justice and champions of unity.
In 2023, we find ourselves facing a unique set of challenges. As Jamaica undergoes significant transformation our communities continue to grapple with issues such as economic inequality, crime, environmental issues as well as the access to quality education and healthcare. My fellow Jamaicans, I am here to tell you there is hope. As we wrestle with these challenges, good things are also happening.
For every bad thing that you see or hear about, there are also many good things. It is up to each of us to not only take note of the good things but to share the good things that are happening. The fact is that amidst the global challenges Jamaica has been able to report:
- Nine consecutive quarters of economic growth since the pandemic
- A historically low unemployment rate of 4.5%, which is lower than even some developed countries
- Increased export earnings
- A significantly lower level of national debt
- The best international credit rating that we have ever received.
What does all of this mean for you? It means more jobs and more economic opportunities. It means your government can now allocate more money in the budget to fix your roads, build you more houses, supply water to your communities, improve our schools, improve our hospitals, pay our police, teachers, nurses and workers generally, more.
On this Heroes Day 2023, I encourage each of you to embrace your own heroism and grasp the opportunities before you to make a meaningful change in your life and the lives of others. I encourage you to believe in yourselves and your ability to make a positive difference.
Be compassionate and empathetic toward others. Seek out opportunities to contribute positively to your community and your country and above all, recognize that by your own actions, you can transform your country. You are who you have been waiting for.
Let this Heroes Day be a catalyst for renewed determination. Let us be heroes in our homes, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces and in our communities.
Let us work hand-in-hand to build a Jamaica that continues to shine as a beacon of progress, inclusivity and prosperity.
May the indomitable spirit of our heroes guide and inspire us all to overcome any obstacle, surmount any hurdle, and continue our journey towards a brighter tomorrow.
Together we must keep on BUILDING JAMAICA.
Happy Heroes Day; may God continue to Bless each of you and Bless Jamaica, Land we Love.