Speech by Mayor Darrell Bradley on the Occasion of the 214th Anniversary of the Battle of Saint George’s Caye Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 12 September 2012 00:00

Belize City Mayor, Darrell BradleyHis Excellency, the Governor General of Belize, Sir Dr. Colville Young and Lady Young; Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow and Mrs. Kim Barrow; Chief Justice of Belize, Kenneth Benjamin; Leader of the Opposition, the Honorable Francis Fonseca; Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Members of the Diplomatic Corp; Mrs. Julie-Ann Ellis Bradley; Deputy Mayor Dion Leslie and other Councilors of the Belize City Council; Members of the Clergy; Her Graciousness, the Reigning Queen of the Bay Ms. Amanda Elizabeth Taylor; Her Graciousness the Queen Designate, Ms. Yadira Arguetta; Queen of the Bay New York; Queen of the Bay California; other Queens; other invited guests; residents and visitors of Belize City, friends and fellow Belizeans, a very pleasant good morning to all of you.

As we all awoke this morning, we rose up to life and freedom. 

How blessed we are that we sleep and wake in a country that has enjoyed 214 years of uninterrupted peace.  It is a reality that many in our world cannot boast to.  It is a reality that we too often take for granted.

214 years ago, our forefathers stood up to defend our land. Fearful and outnumbered, they stood together, unified in one common cause, the defense of freedom.

Imagine how the odds were stacked against them.  Who then would have thought that a small group of untrained, barely armed woodcutters could defeat a world empire?

It would have been so easy for the Baymen to abandon hope, to retreat, to flee to safer ground. After all, they had been driven from the settlement before.  They had endured the hardship of seeing their settlement burned and having a group of them exported as prisoners and jailed for three years in Cuba.

But, the Baymen had come to realize two basic truths. 

The first is that the success of a nation does not depend on cannons or ships or soldiers, nor does it depend on money.  The Baymen saw that the success of a nation depends on the sheer will and determination of its people. That any problem (no matter how large) could be overcome, that any enemy (no matter how fearsome) could be silenced and that any dream (no matter how lofty) could be achieved with basic human determination. 

The second truth that the Baymen realized is that the success of a nation comes only when people are united.  And, so it was that at a Public meeting in 1798, the Baymen held a vote to decide whether or not they would defend the settlement.  They resolved that if the majority voted to leave the settlement, they would all leave together.  And if the majority voted to stay and defend the settlement, then they would all stay and fight together, united as one people.  The vote was close, but there is no record that those who voted to leave abandoned those who voted to stay, or that there was any further strife or division. The Baymen were united, shoulder to shoulder, in one common cause, and willing to die together to preserve freedom.    

A great man once said: “a moment comes which comes rarely in history, when men and women step out from the shackles of the past, when they step out boldly from the old and into the new, and then an age ends and the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”.

And so it is for us, that the Baymen embraced their moment in history, with courage and conviction, and they went forward boldly making the first steps towards our Belizean nation.     

Their determination and their unity of purpose gave birth to our beloved Belize and their legacy is this land of freedom that we now call home. 

And so it has been for 214 years since then that countless others have come to this land to seek the freedom that the Baymen fought for.   The Mestizoes, who fled civil war in Central America and Mexico; the Garifuna, who fought and fled tyranny and oppression in Saint Vincent; the Chinese and Indians, who fled social and economic discrimination in their homeland; the Mennonites, who fled religious persecution; and countless others who sought freedom and opportunity here in our jewel.  And, of course, we remember the proud Mayas.  The footprints of their two-thousand-year civilization are all around us. 

The land that the Baymen called home has become a haven of peace and freedom for some many – a symbol to the world of different people living together in peace and tranquility.    

But, just as in the days of the Baymen when the future of Belize seemed bleak, there have been other days were our future as a nation seemed uncertain. We have labored through colonialism; we have struggled and continue to struggle with the Guatemalan claim; we have struggled through serious devastation as a result of hurricanes; and through economic and social unrest. 

But, we have endured (through the grace of God and the indomitable spirit of our people), we have survived, we are still here going strong after 214 years.  Ours is history of courage against all odds, of victory in the face of overwhelming circumstances.

Yes, we have struggled as a nation.  But, whenever we have perils, which seemed so daunting, the spirit of the Baymen has been summoned and there have been those who have answered the call to defend our freedom. Those like Antonio Soberanis, George Price and Phillip Goldson, who embraced their moment in history with the same courage and conviction as the Baymen. 

And, undoubtedly, there will be other days when our nation faces greater struggles and when our future seems evermore uncertain.  But, equally undoubtedly, is the truth that inside each of us resides the same courage and conviction of the Baymen.  And when we face these future perils, the spirit of the Baymen (that spirit that lives inside each of us) will once again be summoned and we will stand together united in defense of our freedom. 

As so it is fitting today, 214 years after the Battle of Saint George’s Caye that we gather to celebrate the Baymen and their legacy, this land we love, our homeland by the sea, this tranquil haven of democracy.    

We honor first and foremost, Almighty God, who has blessed our land with peace and prosperity.  And we honor those Baymen who answered history’s call to defend freedom. 

 Ladies and gentlemen, Many Faces, Many Dreams, One Goal: Celebrating Belize.
I close by wishing you all a Happy 214th Anniversary, a Happy Saint George’s Caye Day, a Happy Tenth. God Bless our country; God bless Belize. Hip Hip Hooray!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 23:58