By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE 46th annual Independence Celebrations in Grand Bahama ended with a spectacular fireworks display at Independence Park, following a cultural extravaganza and flagraising on Monday evening.
Governor General C A Smith and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis attended the event, which featured live performances by such Bahamian entertainers as Stileet, Smurf, Lady E, Jay Mitchell, Wilfred Solomon and many others.
Will Stubbs and Ms Daisy provided lively commentary while the police tattoo was the crowd’s favourite.
This year's theme was "United We Stand,Together We Can". Delivering this year's message was Canon Norman Lightbourne, rector of Pro-Cathedral Christ the King Church.
He noted that The Bahamas has made tremendous progress in less than five decades.
"It is simply unbelievable the strides we made in less than 50 years; we come from a quiet fishing and farming community to a thriving and leading tourist destination," said Canon Lightbourne.
He stated that Bahamians have also made strides in sports on the world stage. "From Sir Durward Knowles' one Olympic Gold Medal to several gold medals of our Golden Boys and Girls."
Canon Lightbourne also said the country has moved from one radio and television station to now several.
He indicated that while we have made tremendous progress over the years, there are also some serious issues that causes concern.
The Anglican clergyman believes that many Bahamians have forgotten and turn their backs on God.
"As we reflect on our accomplishment and achievements, the question tonight is have we remained loyal and committed to God? When I look around and see The Bahamas in the 21st century sometimes it pains my heart,"
"Many of us, unfortunately, have forgotten God and placed him on the back-burner; we need God more than ever before.
Canon Lightbourne said that the theme for this year's celebration, “United We Stand Together We Can” is very appropriate and called on Bahamians to be more united as a people to build "a better and brighter Bahamas" where everyone can share in the economic pie.
He stressed that there are still too many persons in the Bahamas who have yet to taste the economic pie.
"The gap between the haves and have-nots continue to widen in our country,” he said. We must be more united in our efforts against poverty. There is no reason why anyone in our Bahamaland should go to sleep hungry any day because there is sufficient for all of us," said Canon Lightbourne.
Bahamians, he said, must be more united in their efforts to share what they have with others.
In terms of crime, he appealed to people to be more united in the effort against crime and violence.
"There is nothing that is impossible for us to do as a people if we are united. If all of us come together, we can do something about crime," he said.
He made an appeal to parents to bring up their children in the fear and nurture of the Lord.
"I have a concern as a priest, parents will take children to soccer classes, swim lessons, basketball practices and other sporting activities, but on Sunday they do not take them to Sunday school and to Church - that is a serious problem we have in the nation.
"We take them to school on the week days, but not to Sunday school on the Lord's day. God is pleased with that..., and yet we blame the police, we blame the teachers, and preachers everybody for the crime, but i say blame yourself, parents."
Canon Lightbourne said every Bahamian has a responsibility to help make The Bahamas a great nation.