AT THE SIGNING: Front row - Dame Marguerite Pindling, Sir Orville Turnquest, Ingrid Lady Darling, Arthur Hanna.Second row - Elwood Donaldson, Maurice Moore, Rosalie Fawkes, George Smith, Sean McWeeney and Cyprianna McWeeney. Photo/Peter Ramsay
By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
A NEW public holiday was formally established yesterday and, for the first time, this coming Monday will officially be recognised as ‘National Heroes Day.’
It replaces ‘Discovery Day’ which celebrated the arrival of Christoper Columbus to the Bahamas.
The new holiday was formally established yesterday with the signing of the National Heroes Act 2007.
The Act will also allow for the formal selection and recognition of the country’s national heroes.
Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes signed the legislation at Government House where he also gave assent to the Majority Rule Act 2013 - proclaiming January 10 a public holiday recognised as ‘Majority Rule Day’.
Several FNM and PLP members of Parliament as well as various Senators and former politicians were present at the signing yesterday.
Prime Minister Perry Christie praised the signing of the “two historic pieces of legislation”.
He said: “It really is a cause for celebration,” that National Heroes Day has at last come into effect.
“Equally important, the National Heroes Act will also establish the framework for the orderly, rational and systematic selection of our national heroes,” Mr Christie said.
“The Order of National Hero will be at the apex of the now emerging indigenous honours system of the Bahamas.
“This particular honour will be reserved for ‘the greatest of the great’, be they living or dead. Indeed this honour is really only intended to be conferred on those citizens of the Bahamas who have so fundamentally influenced the course of Bahamian history or who have given such truly extraordinary service to the nation that they deserve to be elevated to the status of ‘National Hero of the Bahamas’, a status that will carry with it the right to be known and addressed as ‘Right Excellent’.”
Appointments to the Order of National Hero will be made by the Governor General who will serve as Chancellor of the Order, Mr Christie said. The Chancellor will act on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Opposition Leader and the Advisory Committee.
“This Advisory Committee I expect to be in a position to name very shortly,” Mr Christie said.
“There are a great many persons in our society who may not be worthy of elevation to the highest rank of honour – the Order of National Hero – but who nonetheless are deserving of state recognition in one of the various classes or orders of state honours.
“I expect this new national honours system to become a reality in the near term as well.”
Mr Christie also yesterday marked the signing of the Majority Rule (Public Holiday) Act 2013.
The attainment of Majority Rule in 1967, he said, stands with the Emancipation from Slavery in 1834 and the attainment of independence in 1973 as “one of
the three most consequential events in the whole of Bahamian history.”
Majority Rule brought about “a profoundly important liberation-experience in the life and history of our beloved country” and marked the transition from the “old Bahamas” to a “new Bahamas” - replacing minority government with majority rule, the PM said.
“January 10, 1967 was and shall forever remain one of the truly transformative events - not only in Bahamian history, but in the development of the psyche of the Bahamian people as well,” Mr Christie said.