Leader of the Opposition Philip Davis with Deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Chester Cooper and Senators JoBeth Coleby Davis and Michael Darville with PLP Chair Senator Fred Mitchell laying a wreath to commemorate the fallen at the Cenotaph 12 November 2020.
The Leader’s statement delivered for Remembrance Day:
Good afternoon to all. Thank you for coming.
It is a privilege to be here together to honour our nation’s heroes.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This idea, often attributed to philosopher John Stuart Mill, was on my mind as I prepared to come here today.
The Bahamians who chose to fight in wars half a world away – they must have felt called to play a part in the fight for the collective good, because they stepped forward, left behind their homes and their families, and headed directly into great peril.
There was no conscription; all the men who fought were volunteers.
Imagine what it must have been like to dig trenches or build roads or load ammunition in the First or Second World War, thousands of miles from these shores. Imagine what it must have been like, as a black man, to face all the dangers and hardships of war knowing you were not considered an equal by many of the same people with whom and for whom you fought.
It must have taken tremendous courage and character.
They fought for the cause of freedom, but suffered unfair pay and work conditions themselves.
Across the Caribbean region, the experiences of those who fought for the British Empire in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East led to new debates about self-determination and equality.
It was in 1942, during the Second World War, of course, that workers marched from Burma Road to Bay Street.
The First World War ended more than 100 years ago; it has been more than 75 years since the end of the Second World War.
Yet we have been vividly reminded in our times that the world’s troubles are our own; today, pandemics and the intensifying hurricanes in an era of climate change represent new kinds of peril.
Perhaps the best way to honour the personal sacrifices of those whom we remember here today is to summon our own determination; let us resolve to fight today’s battles with the same daring and courage they brought to the great and existential battles of their time.
The children and grand-children and great-grandchildren of Bahamian veterans are with us today. Let’s be change-makers for them, and for all of us.
I want to recognize, too, those who have died in defence of Bahamian sovereignty. The sinking of HMBS Flamingo took place on the tenth of May in 1980, just weeks after the formation of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in March of the same year.
We remember Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup and Marine Seamen David Tucker, Edward Williams and Austin Smith. We pay tribute to their valour. We pray for their families. And we pledge to never forget their sacrifice.
Thank you all for coming and may Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.