Sunday, March 13, 2011


National Heroes Day

Tomorrow Vincentians will celebrate National Heroes Day. When I was a child there was no National Heroes Day but we celebrated January 23rd; the day we were supposedly discovered by Christopher Columbus. from time to time I would read arguments put forward by columnists and other learned people disproving the discovery claim recommending instead a day that celebrated us. The name of Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer who had kept the imperialists at bay was the name often mentioned as being worthy of hero status. It took the Gonsalves administration to finally abolish the January 23rd holiday, create a National Heroes Day and elevate Chatoyer to his rightful status.

Naturally, there were those who scoffed at the choice. To them it was sacrilegious that a "naked skin" man should be accorded such high honor. In their disdain they fail to understand the impossibility of the Carib Chief dressing in European garb. Apart from the grumblings with respect to dress there is still too much ignorance of the life and times of Chatoyer. It's as if we only take him out on March 14th, lay wreaths at his obelisk and then put him away until another March 14th. From what I can see there is not enough visibility given to one of his stature. Is it so hard to erect a statue?

This is why Friday night on SVG TV, a woman could boldly declare to all that she has a hard time believing the stories ascribed to Chatoyer. According to her,such events happened so long ago and nobody is alive to confirm them. Yet, it's my belief that she totally embraced Columbus's claim to the New World. So the challenge for all of us on National Heroes Day is to play our part in educating others on Chatoyer and why he is important to our sense of self.

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