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Bahamas Government Presents Heroes Bill

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Prime Minister Christie said the government is considering whether to formally rename the October 12th holiday National Heroes Day

Gov’t Presents Heroes Bill






By Candia Dames


Nassau, Bahamas

6 October 2005





The government intends to establish a national system of honours and is seeking parliament’s approval to do so.


On his first day in the House of Assembly since his illness in early May, Prime Minister Perry Christie on Wednesday moved for a first reading of The National Honours Bill, which would provide for the establishment and conferment of national honours.


He also moved for a first reading of The National Heroes Bill, which would "institutionalize the recognition by a nation of the contribution made to its emancipation and growth by its national heroes."


Prime Minister Christie said the government is considering whether to formally rename the October 12th holiday National Heroes Day.


But he told House Members, "There is a strong minority report which says you don’t take an about face on history…the fact of the matter is it is an imperative that this country comes face to face with the need to have a national honour system and to have recognized in it the appropriate level of recognition for those men and women who have contributed greatly to our country.


"There is a very strong school of thought, notwithstanding this bill, that we, if only for a time, continue with the queen’s honours. Other countries in the region and the world have eliminated them."


The system of honours would be known, as the National Hero Order of The Bahamas and its chancellor would be the governor general who would appoint a person to be secretary of the order.


The secretary would be responsible for maintaining the records of the order; arranging investitures; and performing other functions in respect of the order as the governor general may from time to time direct.


The bill also outlines who would be eligible for such an honour, noting that, "a person who is or was at the time of his death, a citizen of The Bahamas and who satisfies the criteria set out…is eligible for the conferment of the honour of National Hero of The Bahamas."


Every person upon whom the honour of National Hero of The Bahamas has been conferred is entitled to wear as a decoration the prescribed insignia of the order.


In determining the eligibility of a person, an advisory committee shall determine whether a person has made a "seminal contribution to The Bahamas and which…has altered the course of the history of The Bahamas."


The committee would also determine whether the person being considered has given service to The Bahamas "which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attainment of the highest excellence which has rebounded to the honour of The Bahamas and which service and attainment have been acknowledged as a source of inspiration by a significant portion of the nation."


The national hero, according to the National Heroes Bill, could be chosen based on his or her "heroic exploits and sacrifice, having gone beyond their personal and historic limitations, and contributed to the improvement of the economic, spiritual and social conditions of the nation as a whole."


The National Honours Bill, meanwhile, creates four societies of honour – the Order of The Bahamas, the Companion of the Order of The Bahamas, the Order of Merit and the Order of Distinction.


"It might well be like Barbados – which through permission and consent designed their own national honours which includes knighthoods and dames and conferred with the authority of the crown by Barbados," the prime minister said.


"There will be doubtless, the Order of The Bahamas; doubtless, we will have national heroes."


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