Today, we are in great company. We have among us living heroes who embody Bahamian excellence and inspire us to excel through their lived examples.
We are gathered to pay respect to their legacies, honour their contributions, and thank them for making our nation a better place.
When we think of national heroes, we often think of political heroes, like the father of our nation, Sir Lynden, our first Governor-General, Sir Milo Butler, or the first woman elected to parliament, Dame Janet Bostwick. But we also recognize the broad range of contributions by others who make our society whole – leaders in business, journalism, law, religion, law enforcement, medicine, the arts, and many other fields who all make invaluable contributions to the success of our nation.
Today, we confer the highest national honours upon this group of community, industry, and nation builders whose contributions are now recognized through the awarding of The Order of Distinction, The Order of Merit, and the Distinguished Service Medal.
Each name, each story, is a chapter in the narrative of The Bahamas—a story of tenacity and unyielding commitment to nation-building.
In reflecting upon our rich history, we are reminded of historic figures like Sir Etienne Dupuch, whose journalistic prowess and advocacy for racial equality paved the way for a more just society.
Our cultural tapestry is enriched with the vibrant hues of artistic legends like Ronnie Butler, whose melodies have become anthems for our Bahamian identity. In the realm of sports, we cannot overlook the achievements of elite athletes like Steve Gardiner, and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, whose Olympic victories have placed The Bahamas on the world stage.
Our honourees represent the fields of education, the arts, science, public service, and many others. Their lives and achievements are stories of inspiration for every citizen, young and old.
Thank you to the National Honours Committee, as well as those who organized this event. You are the unsung heroes who made this all possible. Your efforts are noted and appreciated.
As we honour our national heroes, let’s also remember the everyday heroes in our lives: the nurse at the hospital who provides the best care she can with limited resources; the PE teacher who spends his off-duty hours coaching for free, developing the professional athletes of the future; the single mother who works multiple jobs and still somehow manages to take exceptional care of her home; and the young men and women who are faced with negative choices each day but choose, instead, to be a positive influence to their peers. All of these Bahamians, in their own ways, contribute to the success of our nation.
We must remember, it is not the title that makes you a hero. The people we are honouring today were worthy of being honoured long before they ever received a national honour or title.
Looking ahead to the future, we must continue to invest in preserving and amplifying the legacies of our heroes. Initiatives like the National Heroes Park and public education programs are critical to ensuring that the history of those who build this nation is shared with the next generation.
As we conclude today’s ceremony, let’s be reminded of the values and vision our heroes have imparted upon us. Let’s pledge to carry on their legacy, ensuring a brighter, stronger Bahamas for all.
May God’s grace and blessings be upon the Commonwealth of The Bahamas always.