I believe that a day should be set aside for our first chief minister, Most Excellent, Hon. JAGS McCartney, a man that fought for hard for justice and equality for Turks and Caicos Islanders. To date we have named JAGS McCartney as the sole Hero and so in the past on National Heroes Day we only celebrated JAGS therefore I can understand the rationale for replacing National Heroes Day with JAGS McCartney Day. However, I also believe it is time we start naming other National Heroes and set aside a day call National Heros Day to honour those heroes.
In the late 1980s the Government set aside on an annual basis June 6th as JAGs McCartney Day to honour JAGS McCartney. June 6th is the anniversary of the 1975 Junkanoo Incident that took place in Grand Turk. Then in 1994, the Government replaced JAGS McCartney Day with the National Heroes Day and change the date to the last Monday in May. Prior to 1994, the last Monday in May was previously called Empire Day. The First Empire Day took place in the UK to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday. Empire Day was a reminder that we are part of the British Empire and was celebrated in many Commonwealth Countries. In 1966, Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Philip visited Grand Turk and South Caicos respectively and each year thereafter South Caicos continue with the Regatta celebration the last weekend in May ending on that Monday. Ironically, in the USA, the last Monday in May is called Memorial Day and is used to remember the men and women who died in military service for the USA.
Setting aside a day for JAGS is quite a noble thing to do. However, the last Monday in May is not significant to the work and life of JAGS. In fact, it is contrary to what JAGS wanted. It is a reminder of British influence in the islands. Prior to the unfortunate death of our beloved Hero, he was negotiating with the British to remove us from the UK and to gain political independence. Now that the party that JAGS founded is in power, there is no need to use the same day that was previously used. I believed we should honour JAGS on his birthday which is June 30th.
In addition to the one day set aside for Hon. JAGS, our politicians need to respect the legacy of JAGS on a daily basis by their actions. Too many of politicians have used and abused the name of JAGS for political mileage. Too many of our politicians have promoted division while JAGS try to unite us. Believe it or not some of our politicians are encouraging their supporters to attack persons verbally whom they believe are against them thus creating division. Some of our politicians praise and recognize the efforts of only their supporters. JAGS would not have done that. Some of our politicians passed you by straight without saying anything to you especially if they think you are not supporter of their party. JAGS would have never done that as he embraced and greeted everyone he came into contact with. Some of politicians are rejecting qualified persons whose names were put forward to serve in different roles in TCI. Is this something that JAGS would have done? JAGS fought for his people. Who is fighting for us? JAGS encouraged people to speak up and stand up. He did not like us being quiet but nowadays when people speak up, they are considered the enemies and so there is an atmosphere of fear.
National Heros Day
With all due respect to Most Excellency, I believe TCI has many other Heroes that we should honour. Unfortunately we don’t have much documentation on TCI but I am quite sure there are others who are still alive today who can help us to identify some Heroes of the past.
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda,The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadians and St. Lucia have set aside a day called National Heroes Day. Most of these countries have identified more than one person on these days.
I support a JAGS day but I also support a National Heroes Days. I proposed we renamed National Heritage Day that is celebrated in October to National Heritage and National Heroes Day. Give honour where honour is due as there are many people who have done some courageous acts and deserve to be named Heros. Therefore I challenge individuals to put forward nominations for Heroes in the upcoming National Heritage Day.