Bahamas at the centre of an American President Visit!
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie participated in the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the visit of United States President John F Kennedy to The Bahamas in 1962.
The unveiling ceremony was held Saturday, January 19, 2013 at the ‘Conference Corner’ – Blake Road and West Bay Street to commemorate the meeting of President Kennedy and then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Trees were then planted to mark that occasion.
Present for the plaque unveiling was Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of the late president and son of his brother, the late Senator Robert F Kennedy; actress Cheryl Hines; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell; United States Charge’ d’ Affaires John Dinkleman; Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corp and other Government officials.
The unveiling of the plaque comes one month after the planting of ficus trees, both symbols said to be reminders of the significance of the visit of President John F. Kennedy, his spirit vision and his legacy.
“On 21 December 2012, on this very spot, we celebrated the legacy of President John F. Kennedy, the only sitting American President to visit The Bahamas in an official capacity. Today, one month later, we return to this historic site to continue those celebrations, on this occasion, however, with the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, Mr. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to whom I wish to extend personal greetings and a warm welcome to The Bahamas,” the Prime Minister said.
He viewed the occasion as another chapter in the development of solid, mutually beneficial relations between both countries. “The visit of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a passionate activist and environmentalist, to The Bahamas is especially significant, as he is able to join in the celebrations of the legacy of his late uncle.”
President Kennedy has been lauded for his visionary leadership both in the USA and on the international stage. He is to be remembered for the advancement of civil rights as he continually fought against discrimination and inequality among peoples, and indeed this was a remarkable stance for a president during that period.
“Notwithstanding that his visit had an overt militaristic tone with the discussion being the establishment of a nuclear missile system with the British to counter the mounting Soviet threat, 50 years later we can say that his strong stance was one of the pillars of lasting peace among nuclear powers.
“This peace, though fragile, formed the foundation of social, economic and intellectual development throughout the world, leading to enhanced opportunities for all peoples in the Western world, and the spread of democracy throughout the Americas,” the Prime Minister said.
The President was also acknowledged for being one of the key initiators of this new technological age, as he provided both political and financial support to the development of information technology and the Space Age. This scientific explosion led to the creation of the International Space Station, and to various inventions used in medicine, communications, transportation, and even in private homes.
Since The Bahamas’ Independence in 1973, this country has witnessed, and welcomed, the further growth and deepening of relations between the United States of America and The Bahamas, both bilaterally and in the international fora, the Prime Minister said.
Additionally, The Bahamas has been the beneficiary, of, among other things, OPBAT, a collaborative effort in national security between the United States, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre (AUTEC) used for advanced research; and the United States pre-clearance customs and immigration facility.
“We are all aware that most of our students pursue tertiary education in the United States, and most Bahamians who take vacation abroad, do so, in the United States. The Family Islands are also recipients of the generosity of winter residents from the United States,” he said.
Recognising the challenges of environmental issues in our two countries, the Prime Minister applauded Mr. Kennedy’s efforts toward the conservation of natural resources and ensuring a clean and safe environment for future generations, particularly in the marine environment.
“All of mankind are trustees and stewards of the environment globally not only for ourselves but also for generations yet unborn,” the Prime Minister said.
Bobby Kennedy, by his own life and example, is a role model of what it means to be a front line soldier in the cause of environmental protection. And, according to the Prime Minister he brilliantly demonstrated this in The Bahamas when almost 12 years ago he volunteered for frontline service in the popular struggle to save the historic Clifton from commercial devastation.
“I want to recall his role in that struggle and to publicly thank him for the part that he played in helping to stop what the former Government had proposed for that most scared of all spaces on this Island.
“This also demonstrates how important it is for the citizens of the world to look beyond their own national boundaries as Bobby Kennedy did in 2001 – to help to promote the cause of environmental and cultural preservation which are so critical to the perpetuation of life on this planet,” the Prime Minister said.
He also paid tribute to the late Robert Kennedy, who was tragically gunned down within months of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
“I pay my respects to them both and to their life’s work. In this our fortieth anniversary of our Independence, I am pleased to be able to attend on this occasion.
“May these trees planted here just one month ago along with these plaques, continue to remind us of the significance of the visit of President John F. Kennedy, his spirit, vision, and his legacy,” the Prime Minister said.