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St Agnes Cemetery
10 January 2016
When the assassinated President of the United States Abraham Lincoln died in 1865, he was surrounded by his Cabinet members. One of them said upon his death: “ Now he belongs to the ages”.
We gather this morning because Lynden Pindling belongs to the ages and so does this holiday. We are nationalizing the holiday and the man who led the nation to Majority Rule.
It should no longer be a matter of debate or controversy that what he did represented all of us and for that we are all the better. Neither should it be a matter of debate that this day is a day which enriched all of us. This man, this day belongs not to any party but to all Bahamians.
Some may still disagree but we have to move ahead and seek to forge the consensus as we move ahead.
I am grateful therefore that we are able to do so in the presence of Dame Marguerite Pindling, the Governor General and our Prime Minister and Members of the Government and the Parliament.
Last night we honoured the work of Freddie Munnings Sr. and the songs about the wonderful city of Nassau.
I recalled how music and poetry played a part in defining who and what we are. Who can forget Ronnie Butler’s “ Going Down Burma Road”. The song goes on to talk about how far we have come. In his poetry scat he says: “ We used to thank God for Robin Hood flour…” He goes on to say how people were boasting about their alligator shoes, but he remembered when “We used to go to high mass, wearing high top tennis with no socks on and God help you if it rain ‘cause toe jam will kill you.”
So we have come very far by faith.
Today, in his ceremony we come as a family because there are many who are yet alive who can still recall the stories and tell the story. Our Prime Minister recalls “ Lions have their authors, the tale of the hunt is told by the hunter”.
The Prime Minister pledged that the Government would make certain decisions by this day. One of them was the National Honours Bill was to have been passed and it has been done. The Bill will come into force on the 1st March 2016. The first awards are to be made on Independence Day and conferred on National Heroes Day this year.
This bill will provide a system for granting honours and replace the present system provided by the British.
Richard Lightbourn, the Opposition MP, writing in the press said that the recent awards of the British Honours showed that we do not really believe in the new system. Respectfully, I disagree.
I was among those who insisted that since that it was what we had and many of our people who should have been honoured were of advanced years, we needed to use what we had. We now have our own and going forward there are many who look forward to those awards.
One of them is William Swain of Abaco who said he is waiting for an honour having been the first man appointed by then Premier Roland Symonette to local inspector in Abaco. So those who are potential members of the Advisory Committee to nominate persons for awards, Mr. Swain is waiting.
I also say this that the Advisory Committee is so structured that there are representatives from each region of the country.
Once more, I wish to thank the Government and the Prime Minister for the leadership and support on this issue.
Thank you and welcome one and all.