35th Anniversary Independence Message delivered by the Hon Mark A. G. Brantley – 19th September, 2018
Fellow citizens at home and abroad, residents, and visitors I bring you greetings on the occasion of our Nation’s independence.
On 19th September, 1983 the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis raised the curtain on a new era in our history. 35 years ago, we broke the constraints of centuries of colonial rule and emerged as an Independent Nation, a seminal moment in our long march towards a promising and prosperous future. It was 35 years ago that we raised our flag for the first time and with great pride, excitement and expectation took our rightful place among the distinguished community of Nations.
Our 35th Anniversary of our Independence is being celebrated under the theme “Love, Service, Patriotism and Pride, Independence 35.” This theme truly engenders a sense of personal and collective responsibility, and pride of place of St Kitts and Nevis. In the words of Mrs. Yvette Slack, the author of this theme, “If you love your country, you want to serve your country, and if you serve your country, you are being patriotic.”
The concept of patriotism is very complex. It is not simply the singing of the National Anthem, the waving of flags or wearing of national colours. Though these are important symbols to be encouraged, true patriotism involves much more. True patriotism involves coming together for a common good. It requires sharing the burdens of our country by volunteering and sacrificing our time and efforts. It involves not only voting during an election but defending our right to vote. True Patriots will at all time protect and defend our Democracy. Even if we may not have voted for a sitting Government, and we may not agree with all of the policies of that Government, as patriots we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We should not seek to destroy our country by virtue of our disagreements but work harmoniously to improve it. True Patriotism seeks not to divide but rather to embrace, strengthen and celebrate our differences. In an ever changing world, there is great strength and resilience in diversity. Each of us brings our unique and God given talents to bear. Each of us provides a strand in the tapestry of our Nation. Each of us strengthens the ties that bind us together as one people and one Nation.
Fellow Citizens, Independence is a time when we celebrate all those who contributed significantly and selflessly to our national life and prosperity. It is also a time when we pay homage to our forebears without whom our Independence would not have been possible. We speak of those who toiled unceasingly in the social, economic and political vineyards of the past. These men and women are our national heroes who fought the good fight and at times paid the ultimate price in the quest for freedom and self-determination. Yes, Independence is a celebration of our people and their achievements, it is a celebration of all that is right and good about our people and our Nation.
Our achievements over the past 35 years have fully justified our quest for nationhood and self-determination. Socially, our Nation is far more cohesive and inclusive than any other period in our history. Our decision to leave no child behind and to promote child-friendly schools has paid great dividends; our efforts to expand our social safety nets and provide for those in need have touched lives in a meaningful way. We continue to invest in our youth and make provisions for those who are at risk and vulnerable. We have emphasized our commitment to family life, human rights, freedom for all and respect for rule of law. We continue to invest significantly in healthcare and are ever mindful of that ancient truism that the wealth of our Nation depends on the health of our Nation.
In terms of our economy, we have acted with fiscal prudence and managed our economy judiciously. We have witnessed an increase in small locally owned businesses. We have offered assistance for those who wish to further their studies at home and abroad. We have created an economic environment which is investment friendly for both locals and foreign investors. Our Infrastructural development today is vastly superior to what it was 35 years ago. In our beloved Nevis, the Vance Amory Airport, our beautiful Seaports, our state of the art Mondo athletic track, our roads and bridges all provide visible evidence of our infrastructural transformation. Electricity, water and telecommunications which were once rare luxuries in 1983 are today common place. Today, we are experiencing a housing revolution from the heights of Rawlins to the lowlands of Basseterre. These are the tangible signs of a maturing country of which we should be rightly proud. May we all therefore be inspired by the progress and achievements of our hard fought Independence.
Fellow citizens and residents, we have walked this road of independence for 35 years together. On this road, we have had to face and overcome numerous challenges which at times tested and even now continue to test our Nation’s character and resolve. We have endured deadly hurricanes, traumatic economic downturns, incidents of crime and violence, political uncertainties and constitutional crises. But we have always emerged from these challenges with our national character strengthened and fortified. We have never allowed our setbacks and limitations to overshadow our collective strength, achievement and triumphs.
Over our 35 year journey we have learnt that if we meet our challenges individually and separately, we are destined to fail. Only with a united and collective response can we as a people prevail. We can only fulfill the possibilities of Independence when we unite and work together to build a stronger and more prosperous Nation. We are one people, one Nation, united by a common interest, in pursuit of a common destiny.
My fellow citizens and residents, as we celebrate our 35 years of nationhood, I use this occasion to reassert my appeal to your humanity and better self, urging you to be more giving, more selfless, more caring, more compassionate and more loving. Each of us must find a way to give back to society; each of us must play our part in creating a kinder and gentler St. Kitts and Nevis. As a people rich in spirit and generous at heart, we are duty-bound to create:
– a society where no one is left behind and all are part of our national development agenda
– a society where the aged, the ailing, the poor, the at risk and the under privileged are always in the forefront of our thoughts
– a society devoid of discrimination
– a society where no one is above the law, but all are subject to the rule of law.
These tenets are the moral compass which should guide and direct us individually and collectively; these are the attributes and core values which should continue to define our society and our Nation.
As we celebrate our 35 years of Independence, let us thank Jehovah God for how far we have come as a people and as a Nation. He has blessed and sustained us over these 35 years and has brought us through the fire of our challenges with increased strength and resolve. Therefore, as we celebrate our 35th year of Nationhood
– I ask that we look beyond our narrow self interest and individualism and think only of the national good.
– I ask that we commit ourselves to our tried and tested core values that have been our source of strength over the years
– I ask that we embrace, celebrate, protect and preserve all that is right and just about our Nation
– I ask that we commit ourselves to a today which is better than yesterday, and a tomorrow far greater than our today
Finally, in all our doings, aspirations and endeavours, we must all stand together in love and unity as one people, one Nation under God. We were all conceived and nurtured by this our motherland. We are all brothers and sisters, we are one community, we are one family, and yes we are- ONE NEVIS and ONE ST KITTS NEVIS.
May the God of Moses continue to guide and guard our beloved country. May we forever adorn ourselves with the breastplate of virtue and the impregnable armour of righteousness. May God’s grace and mercy abide with us forever.
I wish you Happy Independence.