‘A GREAT HERITAGE, A GREAT LEGACY’Once again it is time for us to recognize and celebrate the achievements of our national heroes. Collectively,their exploits and accomplishments have paved the way for Jamaica to move from plantation slavery to nationhood. The bravery and courage of Nanny of the Maroons and Sam Sharpe propelled us along the path from slavery to freedom. Paul Bogle and George William Gordon led the fight for social justice and access to land.Marcus Garvey gave Jamaicans the self-confidence to rise above their circumstances, and compete successfully with the best in the race of life.Alexander Bustamante’s deep commitment to the workers and Norman Manley’s confidence in Jamaica’s capacity for self-government charted the course from colonialism to nationhood. The journey from plantation slavery to nationhood has made us a proud visionary and ambitious people, always striving for excellence, committed to equality and social justice and caring for each other. However, we need to bear in mind that with each passing year fewer and fewer Jamaicans have any living memory of any of our heroes. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we utilize the media, the classroom and our creative artists to inform and educate our children of the great heritage and the great legacy that we have inherited.Today, as we celebrate our National Heroes; let us also pause to recognize the tremendous contributions of the thousands of our ordinary Jamaican citizens who have given and continue to give service way beyond the call of duty to keep Jamaica going. Particularly at this time, we pay tribute to the members of our security forces, who put their lives on the line battling violent criminals, often without adequate support. We also pay respect to our teachers, health care workers, and the other public sector workers who often give of their personal time and resources, to keep the nation’s social services functioning in very difficult circumstances. Respect is also due to the thousands of Jamaicans who give voluntary service through their citizens’ associations, neighbourhood watches or youth clubs, on behalf of their fellow citizens.These are the present day heroes, who by their collective effort remind us that the vision, hopes and aspirations of the founding heroes of our nation are still to be fully realized. There are still too many suffering from poverty, joblessness and a lack of housing or access to land. Too many of our children are left behind in our educational system without adequate preparation for responsible citizenship and the world of work. The Jamaica that our heroes lived worked and died for is one in which no citizen would be a squatter in the land of their birth. In that Jamaica no child would be left behind by an educational system which fails the majority of students. It would be a Jamaica in which every worker would have a fair share of the wealth they create and equal enjoyment the rights that our heroes secured for them.This Jamaica, however, can only be built by a political leadership that places the highest premium on integrity; and which is committed to the highest standards of public service while recognizing the importance of a partnership with the people they serveWe can best honour our heroes by providing this leadership in our various areas of endeavor as we rededicate ourselves to the task of building a Jamaica that offers opportunity to all its people, and where we all share and care for each other.Have a happy Heroes Day and may God bless you all and Jamaica land we love.