Freeport, Bahamas – Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes said Friday that such celebrations like One Bahamas must inspire not only national unity, but also common cause in the building of a human civilisation dedicated to the uplifting of all peoples.
Sir Arthur’s remarks came as he addressed thousands of school children, parents, teachers and others assembled at the Independence Park in Freeport, Grand Bahama for National Flag Day, a part of the One Bahamas Celebrations.
It marked the first time in the 18-year history of the Celebrations that the Governor General delivered his Message from Grand Bahama.
Sir Arthur arrived on Grand Bahama early Friday morning along with former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest, chairman of the One Bahamas Foundation for the special celebration, which was broadcast live over Radio Bahamas.
He recalled that the first One Bahamas Celebrations was observed in December of 1992 in an effort to promote national unity, foster national pride, and cultivate greater patriotism in terms of citizen service and respect for national institutions.
“This programme seeks to bind us together, fostering unity amidst the wonderful diversity that is our Bahamas. In this we are a model for other countries, large and small.
“Indeed, the ideal of One Bahamas is a living reality as the world marks the manner of our bearing as we continue to pledge together to excel through love and unity,” Sir Arthur stated.
Continuing, he noted that despite the crime which affects us all, that we are a nation of significant social peace within neighbourhoods and communities across our archipelago, and that we have much to celebrate.
Further, he reminded Bahamians that as we observe Flag Day, that we focus attention on our national flag, which stirs within our hearts a tremendous sense of pride year-round, but especially on special occasions.
“That pride often swells and quickens when talented Bahamians, from the Golden Girls and Boys to Rhodes Scholars, to artists and poets, among others, represent our national colours across the seas and the continents of the world.
“Through the One Bahamas experience our far-flung islands are bridged, as every island reaffirms our common good and Commonwealth in a celebration of gratitude and thanksgiving for being an integral part of such a blessed nation.
“Through One Bahamas our ethnic, religious, creed and cultural diversity is combined into a single hymn of praise under the theme: One God, One People, One Bahamas,” he stated.
Sir Arthur added that we thank Almighty God for the blessings of a land filled with immeasurable beauty and opportunities.
“We recognise the goodness and generosity of so many Bahamians in the midst of and despite our national challenges. And we again pledge ourselves to One Bahamas,” he told the large audience.
Admitting that he was very impressed with the large turnout for the celebrations, Sir Arthur told them that even as we give thanks and celebrate the diversity and richness of our natural cultural heritage, we remember that we are part of a larger Caribbean archipelago.
“We also remember today, our Caribbean brothers and sisters who are suffering from the effects of natural disasters, the shortage of food and the threat of disease and despair.
“To borrow and slightly amend the inspiration of the poet John Donne, let me say that no Caribbean nation is an island of itself; every one is a piece of a larger regional community, a part of a global commons.
“In saying this, we recognise that even as we celebrate One Bahamas, such celebrations must inspire not only national unity, but also common cause in the building of a human civilisation dedicated to the uplifting of all peoples,” Sir Arthur stated.
He reminded all, that still, our singular task is to build a better world through building a better Bahamas.
“Even as we surmount the challenges posed by a global economic slowdown, we have the privilege and responsibility of being active and engaged, whether we are senior citizens or youth stewards of our Bahamaland,” he added.
In that spirit, he invited and encouraged all Bahamians to become even more committed to community service and philanthropic efforts. He felt that many of us can give more of our time, talent and treasure, adding that oneness requires a unity of spirit, purpose and concrete action.
“So, dear friends, let us not simply curse the darkness. Let us kindle hope and refresh the light through a generosity that issues forth in civility towards our neighbours, service to fellow citizens, and solidarity with the more vulnerable and less fortunate,” he stated.
Sir Arthur and Sir Orville were given the red carpet treatment at the airport with the Honour Guards on arrival and departure Friday.
At the Independence Parks they participated in an exciting display of Bahamian culture through music, songs, dance, poetry and junkanoo performed by the many schools taking part in the celebrations.
The Grand Bahama One Bahamas Committee had bused students from as far east as McCleans Town and from West End, Grand Bahama for the fun filled celebrations, which also saw members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force participating in the Flag Raising.