Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas His Excellency the Hon. Arthur D. Hanna congratulated the National Council on Older Persons for selecting who he said were “some of the finest citizens of The Bahamas” as honourees for this year’s Nation Builder Awards.
During the Ministry of Labour and Social Development’s 11th Nation Builder Awards Ceremony held at the Police Conference Centre, Monday, His Excellency said he personally knows the contributions that the 11 honourees have made to the development of the country.
“Some of our heroes are not the ones you see in the House of Assembly or in the newspapers,” he said. “Mind you, they have made contributions and their names have been written down because they were on the radio or on the TV, but a lot of names have not been written down.”
Referring to the honourees he said, “I know the distance from which they have come; I know the system under which they grew and I watched them grow gracefully, as they gave wonderful contributions to the country. I cannot stop thanking them for that.”
The Minister of Labour and Social Development the Hon. Dion Foulkes also commended the honourees, saying that it was through their efforts that people are able to enjoy a high standard of living in The Bahamas, pointing out meantime that the Government is aware of the hardships many people are experiencing.
“The Government has taken action to alleviate the burdens of many of our people, especially the unemployed and older persons. We have provided assistance to help pay electricity bills and we have also drastically increased social service assistance.”
He added that Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham recently assured that the Government will soon announce a programme to assist families who are unable to meet their mortgage payments.
“We have much to be thankful for,” he said. “I speak not only of the beautiful country that we live in but also the people who have helped make it what it is today. People such as Sir Milo Butler, Sir Lynden Pindling, His Excellency Arthur Hanna and Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield, whose contributions in politics are well known.
“But, there are many more whose efforts in nation building are less well known but no less important; today we honour some of them.”
Minister of State for Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner said too often people are led to believe that greatness needs a large stage upon which to display itself.
“Truly, however, greatness shines out where ever and wherever the opportunity arises,” Mrs. Butler-Turner said. “As I read the biographies of the 11 people who are to be honoured today, I was struck by how many had, with little formal training, become pillars of their communities and elders of their churches.”
She said while many people may attain old age, the honourees stand out because they have both lived and served long.
“It is upon this principle of long service upon which The Bahamas is built. It is nothing but our own foolish pride that leads us to believe that we have gained all that we have on our own.”
Mrs. Butler-Turner added, “We must humble ourselves and always realise that we stand upon the foundation laid down by our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.”
Too often, she said the true nation builders are often overlooked and are content to stand aside as younger persons rush along the road called “progress”.
“Today, we shall slow down long enough to truly appreciate those older persons who have made the modern Bahamas possible.”
The 11 honourees are:
Reverend Doctor Lorenzo Brooks (92); Jennie Frances Edgecombe (100); Florence Augusta Gray (85); Joan Eleanor Hanna (81) who relocated to The Bahamas from Canada; Ophelia Humes (100); Theresa Rose Johnson (89); George Albury Johnson (81); Alma Oliver (82); Miriam Elizabeth Roker (85); Nera Sawyer (92) and Evelyn Pricilla Stuart (90).