BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
The citizens of Jamaica have always been commended on the love and pride they hold for their country. Throughout the years, they have worked together to build a foundation for their nation working on constantly developing the land and bringing up the economy. With a population of just over two million people, Jamaica has been fortunate to have many persons who have performed distinguished acts of service, courage and bravery and so she has been given a day to recognize them all for their outstanding achievements.
On Monday October 19th, Jamaica’s National Heroes Day, over 200 citizens were recognized in a Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Awards that took place on the Kings House grounds in Kingston, Jamaica.
The National Honours and Awards Act, established on July 18th 1969, has allowed the nation to recognize those individuals who have made a meaningful and significant impact on life in Jamaica. This formal recognition of service is bestowed, through the Honour of receiving one of the Orders of the six Societies of Honour founded under the requirements of the Act that include:
The Order of the National Hero
The Order of the Nation
The Order of Excellence
The Order of Merit
The Order of Jamaica
The Order of Distinction
and by the award of the Badge of Honour or the Medal of Honour.
The ceremony commenced with the arrival of officials and respected dignitaries including Jamaican Prime Minister the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, and the Governor-General, the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, alongside his wife the Most Honourable Lady Allen.
The National Guard of Honour respectfully marched across the grounds at Kings House, putting on a respectful display of fanfare and Jamaican pride. The Governor-General was escorted to the presentation platform and saluted by the regiment, before taking their leave.
His Excellency the Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen had the privilege of presenting each recipient with the Orders of the Societies and award Badges of Honour. This year the Order of Jamaica was awarded to eight individuals. Meanwhile forty nine individuals received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer, thirty three individuals awarded the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service and forty others received the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service.
In addition to those awards, fifty members of the uniformed service received the Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service. Amongst these members were sixteen Officers from the Jamaica Defence Force; twelve officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; ten officers from the Jamaica Fire Brigade; and twelve officers from the Department of Correctional Services.
Each of the persons honoured at the Heroes Day Celebrations has dedicated many years in service to community development, education, science and research, as well as the cultural and heritage development of the Nation. All of the officers who were there recognized for their selfless acts of courage and bravery demonstrated, assisting, making sacrifices and taking leadership in circumstances where there was risk of personal loss or injury to save the lives of others.
Over the years the highest Order of National Hero has been awarded to those citizens of Jamaica for their most distinguished services provided to the nation. While none were bestowed this year in the past it has been received by Paul Bogle, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Marcus Garvey, George William Gordon, Norman Manley, Nanny of the Maroons and Samuel Sharpe.
After the ceremony concluded, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller took the opportunity to greet all of the recipients of Honours and Awards on their outstanding achievements and services provided to Jamaica. This is only one of the many attractions that Jamaica has to offer, every year around this time, bringing the country together in a celebration of accomplishments.