Today is a public holiday in Jamaica, dedicated to the memories of seven national heroes who made important contributions to the building of the Jamaican nation through their opposition to slavery, their willingness to fight for freedom and and against oppression, and their struggles for the rights of popular political representation.
It’s also the time when honours are bestowed on citizens who have also made significant contributions to national development. I’m never going to dismiss the efforts made by anyway to help lift a friend or neighbor, or to do something for a stranger or visitor, and who helps build a better society. Most of us try to make contributions that will help our country be better in every way. To honour a few can be seen as divisive. However, I wont ring that bell beyond that little peal. But, in my mind, I will honour the ‘heroes’ I have know, many now dead, who through their dedication and public services have made better Jamaicans. Some were teachers; some were nurses; some were doctors; some were farmers; some were builders. All worked hard to make things better for others.
I’ve been lucky enough to have lived while some of the national heroes lived–Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante. Perhaps new national heroes will be included as time passes, not just awards to some ‘worthies’. It would be good to imagine that out of each generation or every fifty years, would come some national heroes. It’s too limited to think that only those from a particular era have done things of nationally heroic proportions, and that it’s limited to certain struggles. Maybe, we need the distance of more time before we can see that this is something worthy to bestow.