354 James Walter Francis Drive
RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110
Tel: 284 468 2730
Fax: 284 468 2750
People of the Virgin Islands, I greet you heartily on this Heroes and Foreparents Day. This holiday was conceived as a means of recognizing outstanding Virgin Islanders for their contribution to our society. As we reflect on the findings of the commission of inquiry and seek to improve areas of governance where we have identified weaknesses, it is important to remember that we have also made tremendous progress.
Though looking to our past is sometimes painful, our story is a testament to the triumphant spirit of the Virgin Islander. We survived the cruelty of slavery and worked and bought our freedom. After the collapse of the plantation economy, our industrious, innovative foreparents fashioned livelihoods out of the rocky soul and the tumultuous seas. We did it. We planted; we grew; we reaped; we shifted livestock; we built sloops; we stocked our vessels; we traversed the ocean; we traded with neighbors; we went through the window; we cut cane. We overcame. Our foreparents are heroes and, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for laying the foundation for our success.
Our society, a colony of Britain, was severely underdeveloped. It was due to the political activism of an Anegada fisherman with a pregnant wife along with a Tortola boat captain and Road Town businessman, both of Anegadian ancestry, as well as 1500 strong Virgin Islanders, that marched us into democracy and the beginning of a modern Virgin Islands. This is the legendary heroism that we must recognize and celebrate.
And since the restoration of our legislature, we have had heroes who have lifted us up through leadership and vision and tenacity and sacrifice and hard work. We have had ordinary individuals who have done extraordinary things through a commitment to nation building and a love of the Virgin Islands. Through teaching, nursing, administration, sports, construction, hospitality, fishing, planting, and building the nation.
Cabinet has established a committee tasked with proposing a list of national heroes. These are individuals whose feats are so incredibly noteworthy and special that they deserve recognition on a national and historic basis. Once cabinet approves the proposed list along with the corresponding protocols, the House of Assembly will have the opportunity to debate a resolution which will officially designate these individuals as national heroes. These heroes would then be taught in our schools and enshrined in the national conscience.
As we celebrate today, let's remember: we still need heroes. Heroes who will fight to reform our institutions and strengthen good governance but also heroes who will fight for the right to participate in the process and uphold democratic governance. We must continue the journey our ancestors began, inspired by their tireless and unyielding commitment to Virgin Islands growth, progressive development, and national success. Happy Heroes and Foreparents Day!