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Heroes and Benefactors Print E-mail
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Written by Delroy Cuthkelvin   
Thursday, 11 March 2010 00:00

Delroy Cuthkelvin, Press Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister(From March 4, 2010 Edition of Belmopan Weekly)

The decision which this government made to rename March ninth as National Heroes and Benefactors Day was long overdue. And the holiday this year, quite paradoxically in one sense, is made particularly timely by the untimely passing one week ago of a son of the soil who most Belizeans would regard as an outstanding Belizean hero and a great benefactor, although he might not yet have been officially named as such.  

Sir Barry Bowen was no saint; but, of course, heroism and benevolence are not synonymous with sainthood. What he

clearly possessed was an unconquerable faith in the potential of his Country and People, evidently combined with a quiet confidence in his own ability to excel, very often in ventures with no precedent or guarantee. That, we believe, makes him an undisputed Belizean hero. And because, through his success, wittingly and unwittingly, he made, and will continue to make, a positive impact on the lives of countless Belizeans, he will no doubt go down as an esteemed benefactor. 

But wealth or economic success are not always essential ingredients for the making of a hero or benefactor. And there is perhaps no Belizean hero or benefactor in our lifetime, named or unnamed, who stands taller than the late Phillip Goldson, a man of modest, if not lowly means, whose courage, determination and personal sacrifice in defence of his country and its sovereignty earned him the distinction of being the foremost Belizean patriot. An outstanding hero because of his demonstrably, exemplary, firm resolve while he was among us. An eternal benefactor because he has indeed left us a great legacy, that of a sovereign nation with a vibrant, though challenged, democracy.  

Among other Belizean champions who could justifiably be added to the list is the late, great Andy Palacio, whose meteoric rise to international musical fame was undoubtedly propelled by an unassailable faith and an irrepressible pride in his own cultural foundation and Belizean identity. Not a vain pride, but one which propelled him, with a fervent mission, to push Belizean music and culture on to the international stage, earning unprecedented respect and recognition by the World, and amplifying our own appreciation and pride in our identity as a People and a Nation. 

But one need not be born on, nor buried beneath Belizean soil to earn the honour of national hero or benefactor. Indeed, the tribute and honour of the day will always be shared with the late Baron whose acquired love and benevolence towards Belize is what the day was originally set aside to honour and observe. The legacy of Baron Bliss will forever remind us that beyond our love and patriotic duty to our own country, we also share a commitment and obligation to a common humanity with the rest of the world.

Our national heroes and benefactors are NOT all dead, nor are they all well-recognized. Countless Belizean heroes and benefactors have gone before us who in innumerable and immeasurable ways contributed to the great legacy we enjoy; and there are countless others among us today, some recognized, but many unsung, who continue and will continue to make their impact on the lives of their fellow citizens and the shaping of our nation’s future. 

May the observance of this day always prompt us to recognize and acknowledge the heroism and benevolence in our midst; may it compel us to honour and pay tribute to the many heroes and benefactors who have passed on, but who continue to make their impact through the great legacy they have left us; and may it inspire us to ourselves aspire to the ideals of true heroism and benevolence towards our fellow Belizeans and our Nation. Happy National Heroes and Benefactors Day Everyone!