Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning!
What a joy it is to be back so soon again in Abaco.
And to come on the occasion of the inauguration of this restoration project to return the Elbow Reef Lighthouse to its former glory – to me, this is of great significance.
Lighthouses are one of the simplest and greatest emblems of human civilization.
They are full of metaphor and meaning.
By their function, they both repel and attract.
They are both beacons and warnings, an ancient effort by human beings to triumph over the hidden dangers that sometime lie beneath the seas.
In archipelagos such as ours, for centuries the presence of lighthouses have, for many mariners, literally been the determining factor between Life and Death.
In fact, there was a time in our history when trust in lighthouses was weakened, because they were used to lure sailors into danger instead of guiding them to safety.
Happily that time has passed, and lighthouses have long been restored as towers of trust.
But above all else, Lighthouses offer Hope – the Hope that we may chart the right course and thereby avoid danger.
And that Hope is filled with the knowledge that some other human souls, people we may never meet, have invested so heavily to protect the journeys and lives and well-being of strangers.
The Lighthouse Keepers’ work is not to protect themselves, but to save others.
That in itself is an irony.
To labour day in, day out, in all weathers, entirely for the benefit of others, this speaks to a profound sense of humanity, rarely seen in modern times.
They are a hopeful example of the best in us.
I fervently wish that more of us might learn from them.
But it is this idea of ‘Hope’ on which I wish to focus on today.
Since Dorian, much has been said about the Biblical fundamentals of Faith, Hope and Love.
We must continue to do speak to these truths as we chart our way forward in Abaco.
But in the restoration of this Lighthouse, I hope that the steadying beam of the Lighthouse is both a reminder of former glory, as well as an inspiration that happier, safer times are soon ahead.
There remains so much about the Elbow Reef Lighthouse to cherish and celebrate.
The last remaining hand operated kerosene burning lighthouse left in the world;
One of only 10 active lighthouses still operational in The Bahamas;
The only lighthouse in The Bahamas to have been continually manned for nearly 160 years;
Those distinctive red and white candy stripes still a shorthand for Abaco, even on the $10 bill;
Taken together they remind us of what is still so precious about this monument, how it is so much more than a stack of bricks.
More practically, this restoration will fully restore the Elbow Reef Lighthouse’s iconic exterior, protecting it for years to come.
It will also restore key components of the interior structure, including the flooring.
This project will employ local Abaconians, and generate economic activity in the aptly named ‘Hope Town’.
This project will forge partnerships with specialized companies from the United States in its construction, and will hopefully thereby strengthen civic pride, and help spur the recovery of tourism: in Hope Town in particular and in Abaco in general.
On behalf of Bahamians everywhere, I thank the Charge d’Affaires, and the Government and People of the United States for this visionary effort. We are extremely grateful for yet another generous expression of the close ties that bind our two nations, and thank you for all that you do to support us.
Back in September 2021, when I accepted the Instruments of the Office of Prime Minister, I prayed God’s guidance and blessings upon us all by offering the prayer of St. Francis.
“Make us instruments of your Peace; Where there is Discord, let me bring Union;
Where there is Doubt, let me bring Faith;
Where there is Despair, let me bring Hope;
And where there is Sadness, let me bring Joy.”
To this prayer I now add the further hope that, once the Elbow Reef Lighthouse is restored to its former glory, that it signifies the enduring return of Peace, Faith, Hope and Joy to the people of Abaco.
A light that truly shines out in the hearts of all Abaconians.
Once again, thank you for inviting me to share with you on this special occasion. Good morning.