The moment in history saw family members of the late Right Excellencies Sir Robert Bradshaw, Sir C. A. Paul Southwell, Sir Joseph Nathaniel France, and Sir Simeon Daniel, read the profiles of each hero before the purple silk cloth was removed to reveal the bronze statues. The profile of Dr. the Right Excellent and the Right Honourable, Sir Kennedy Simmonds, the only living National Hero, was read by Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Shawn Richards, while Lady Mary Simmonds, Sir Kennedy’s wife, unveiled the statue.
Applause rang out as each statue was revealed to the large audience that included Governor General, His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Members of Federal Parliament, Members of the Nevis Island Assembly, visiting and resident diplomats, a contingent of soldiers from the Republic of China (Taiwan) Honour Guard, as well as representatives from the United States Army’s Florida National Guard, students, and hundreds of residents.
After the ceremony, persons flocked to get an up close look of the monuments.
Carla Astaphan, a noted local visual and literary artist, soaked in the occasion and said that she was happy that the vision for the park is being achieved. She noted that she looked forward to taking many strolls in the park and said that the workmanship on the statues was excellent.
“As an artist myself and one who has played for many years with clay, I think they have done a fabulous job,” she stated. “I know how difficult it is to recreate faces and recreate whole statues so I am really pleased with the outcome.”
Ms. Astaphan brought her 10-year-old daughter to the park to witness the “momentous occasion” explaining that she wanted her to “remember it as she grows up” and to “realize the significance of today.”
The importance of the unveiling was not lost on the many primary school students who witnessed the ceremony.
D’Jaaden Dunrod, 11, a Grade Six student at the Cayon Primary School, attended as part of a class group. He said: “the National Heroes are important because they contributed so much to the development of the nation.”
The sixth grade student said the statues were “amazing” and encouraged his peers to visit the monument park noting that “I would tell them to come because on the statues they have information about the National Heroes which they can learn.”
The reading of the profiles told a similar story of persons who rose from humble backgrounds, who worked hard and achieved the highest honour in the twin-island Federation, with four of the five cases awarded posthumously.
That message resonated with sixth grader Elisa Franks, 10, of the Tucker Clarke Primary School, who summed up her understanding of what she learnt: “if you join the community and help the community, you can become a National Hero, once you help the community and participate in the community activities.”
Additional inputs will undoubtedly be required, most importantly on the national level, but many consider it a good place to start. Perhaps not as a National Hero but perhaps as an Independence Award Honouree.