As Jamaicans observe National Heroes Day today, Jamaican Echoes takes a brief trip back in time to Jamaica’s first National Heroes Day, which was celebrated on Monday, October 20, 1969.
On that day Jamaica’s newest national heroes, the by then deceased Norman Washington Manley (July 4, 1893 – September 2, 1969) and the then still alive Alexander Bustamante (February 24, 1884 – August 6, 1977), were given the national award.
Did You Know…
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was named Jamaica’s first National Hero on Sunday, November 15, 1964. On this day the Government of Jamaica ceremoniously re-interred his remains in National Heroes Park in Kingston. Garvey died on June 10, 1940 after suffering two strokes that year. His body was embalmed and interred in Kendal Green Cemetery in London. Twenty four years later his body returned to his native land.
The first National Heroes Day celebrations consisted of the holding of church services across the country in recognition of this inaugural event and the awarding of the national hero award on the country’s newest national heroes, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante. In fact, the Daily Gleaner noted that the St. Andrew Scots Kirk church “held an “Old Fashion Sankey Service” to mark the occasion.”
A national parade was also held at Up Park Camp, beginning at 8:00 a.m.
The following was the programme for the first ever National Heritage Week from October 21 – 25, 1969, as advertised on page 14 of the Daily Gleaner for October 21, 1969:
As we observe National Heroes Day today, we must remember the successes the country has made thus far but be also cognisant of the work that lies ahead of us to make Jamaica better and greater. Our history will always guide us in this regard.
Until next time…