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Greetings Delivered by the Hon Leader of the Opposition National Heroes Day 2015

I greet each of you in your respective places.

It is certainly a privilege to be given this opportunity to bring brief greetings on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Movement and the Official Opposition. I therefore wish to extend my sincerest thanks to the National Honors and Awards Committee.

Another year has passed and each year we meet here to remember, to celebrate, to honor and each year we are charged as individual citizens to be more and to do more from where we stand or rather the place we occupy. This year is no different. I pay homage to the Late JAGS McCartney whose life and legacy continues to speak from beyond the grave. I am especially proud to celebrate him from the platform on which I stand as Leader and on behalf of his Great Party. I recognize that I stand on his shoulders and all those that fought alongside him.

The McCartneys (his wife and children) have a reason to be proud. His brothers and sisters have a right to be proud. North Backsalina and Grand Turk have a right to be proud. But that young man called Slim, Woopie, Barba Jaggie, JAGS belongs to the Turks and Caicos Islands. His dream and vision was for the Turks and Caicos Islands and we honor him today and ought to each day of our lives and not just on National Heroes Day.

In my brief greetings and I promise you that I will be brief, I choose to remember a few things about JAGS that continues to validate his heroic status year after year and that prove to be relevant and the best way forward even decades later.

This year we celebrate 40 years since the Junkanoo Club incident which no one can deny was a catalyst for change in elective representation. That struggle was the sum total of several initiatives and an attempt to change the culture not just of how we were treated as Turks and Caicos Islanders but how we treated each other.

In this climate – in this period which causes us to reflect on us as a people, I charge us to follow in McCartney’s footsteps in how he treated his brothers and sisters. McCartney respected all people – People who society rejected, who some people thought had the wrong last name, or who was of the wrong social class or poor. He respected everyone and included all. We must learn from McCartney how to treat each other for I am convinced that we can only move forward when we do this. We are often confused as to why persons who come to live among us treat us the way they do and why so many people among us disrespect us and without providing excuses, we must look at how we treat each other; how disrespectful we are to each other. We must look within and correct this from within. JAGS respected everyone and dismissed no one.

Secondly. JAGS used education to inspire and ignite a passion for change. No hero manipulates or tells lies lest when that lie is exposed, the flame dies. The issues are in too many respects the same and we seem to have regressed and have lost some gains. We must see the importance of educating our people in all disciplines but more so, on the issues that we as a people face. And when we are aware, we must not be selfish in our accomplishment and seek to hold back but must each one reach one – each one, educate one.
JAGS used education and respect to inspire but above all, he made citizens: ordinary citizens see their self worth and value.

We are at a dangerous place that threatens his dream. Whilst I celebrate the man, the life and the legacy, I caution us to not trample on the dream and the vision. JAGS’ vision was not a secret. He shared his vision. That was how he was able to inspire and ignite flames that shone bright even in the face of danger. In his words “it is not an idle dream…some may think it an impossible task…”. He pledged to not stop fighting until we would have achieved social, economic and political advancement for all – freedom, equality and justice for all.

In realizing this dream, in 2015, there are new and not so new frontiers to conquer and the times and circumstances can in different instances dictate a change of method and strategy but these tenets of the movement I highlight today remain relevant and constant. We must respect each other. We must be educated on and understand the issues as they really are. And we must be taught and learn our own self worth in this struggle. 40 years later, the struggle is real, but it is too real among ourselves. In 1979. JAGS said “we must pull together if only for survival”. I say to you in 2015, that we must pull together if only for survival.

JAGS’ dream is the dream and ought to be the dream of every right thinking Turks and Caicos Islander. His dream calls for unity at all levels.

We must pull together if only for survival.

His dream and his struggle remind us that we need each other.

We must pull together if only for survival.

I say to you that we cannot and will not get anywhere pulling each other down. We cannot attain advancement in this country politically, socially or economically until we realise this. You pull me down, we fall. I pull you down, we fall.

We must pull together if only for survival.

JAGS’ dream reminds us that we must allow a passion to be ignited in us, inspired only by the need for change and inspired only by selflessness. I recognise however that JAGS’ dream is being fulfilled in some areas and I celebrate this because his dream sees a little black girl like me (married to little black boy (handsome little black boy) from the Garden come to a high decision making office in this land.

JAGS’ dream says we all have a part to play regardless of who you are or who people say or think you are; regardless of how much money you have; regardless of your social standing. JAGS’ dream calls for no one to be left behind, trampled on, disrespected, dismissed, lied to or manipulated.

I say to you, what are you doing to advance the cause?

What are you doing to realise the dream?

Have you captured the vision? It is for us all. His vision is no good to us staying buried in the grave. We must capture it and see our individual roles. We must accept and see our individual roles.
Let us honor our National Hero by respecting each other, by bringing each other along, by ensuring each one understands his/her value because this struggle requires all hands on deck.
We are in a frightening place but it is not an impossible task.

JAGS calls out to us today. Can he trust us with his dream? Can he trust us?

Yes let’s celebrate and honor our only named National Hero. Yes let’s celebrate our past but let us fight for the future that he saw for us.

Let us always remember we each have a role to play. We are all legends in the making and we all can leave a lasting legacy of good and wholesome outstanding contributions.

I say Happy National Heroes Day to all of you and may God bless you and may He continue to bless these Turks and Caicos Islands.

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