March 18, 2005
A heroic feat

March 14 saw another National Heroes’ Day being celebrated here across the nation with multiple activities.

At the top of the official list was the now annual memorial activity at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill. This year though, the activity was poorly attended and hardly dignified the occasion though we showed respect for our National Hero Chatoyer with speeches, cultural performances by Chatoyer’s descendants and with the laying of wreaths.{{more}}

As the Minister of Culture Rene Baptise hinted, there would have to be much better organisation of this activity in the future. Certainly, March 14th cannot be just another day for frolicking. There has to be a more meaningful commemoration of this day and it will have to go beyond just a few persons going before the monument to our National Hero to witness cultural performances and listen to speeches, while the rest of the nation parties.

Following the obelisk activity, someone suggested that maybe a much larger rally can be held at a larger outdoor area, which will involve a wider cross section of our society and then have a separate wreath-laying ceremony. That was just an off the cuff thought being expressed, but what is certain is that we must revisit how we honour Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.

National Heroes’ Day also saw, and not by coincidence, the culmination of the most heroic feat by two Vincentians in Earl “Ole George” Daniel and Joel Butcher who ended their six day Iron Man Endurance Walk in Kingstown amidst much celebration.

This was a quest for the record books, which grew larger in national significance with each passing day. It was most commendable the manner in which Vincentians here at home and in the Diaspora supported this effort and embraced it as a true national effort. As Daniel himself said on Wednesday, this effort gave hope to Vincentians and showed just what is possible.

The final walk into Kingstown threatened to get out of hand as it took on a Carnival-like atmosphere, though George admitted Wednesday that the crowds never bothered him. The upside of it all was that this was Vincentians celebrating the heroism of two of their own.

Now, “Ole George” Daniel faces another task. That of getting the Guinness World Book of records to recognise his feat. He continues to receive support from many Vincentians and other Caribbean people at home and abroad.

On this next phase, that of getting this record duly recognised, may have to be an effort embracing all of us as a people. This recognition of his six-day walk can be used to sell this country worldwide.

For whatever the organisational shortcomings of this effort, “Ole George” Daniel still needs our support.