Congratulations are extended to the long-driving, persistent advocacy group for the establishment of a National Heroes holiday in The Bahamas for their success in killing two birds with one stone – the establishment of the National Heroes Day holiday and the elimination of Discovery/Columbus day. It is now official, from this year forward in The Bahamas there will no longer be a Discovery/Columbus Day recognized as a holiday in commemoration of Columbus’ first landfall in the ‘new world’ on San Salvador on October 12th, 1492; in its stead, the second Monday in October will hereafter be recognized as National Heroes Day and celebrated as a holiday.
Columbus’ landfall on San Salvador on that fateful October 12th day in 1492 was truly a discovery for him and his party, and the interest they represented. They became aware of something they did not know before. But, that in and of itself is not most significant, it is what followed. What followed is the cause for us, the current inhabitants of this discovered country, descendents mainly of ‘old world’ Africans and Europeans to now be able to celebrate our heroes. Not the original inhabitants of these islands, those would have been the Amerindians – Lucayans, Arawaks, who would have come here some five hundred years before Columbus and his band of Europeans.
Our world as we know it is a result of Columbus’ voyage that bridged the ‘old world’ to the ‘new world’ and caused the blending of the world. Regrettably in the process a set of people was wiped out in our area and replaced with another set of people, us. These original inhabitants should not be forgotten and more should be done to recognize and commemorate them. However, because of our survival and existence here, Columbus, also, should not be forgotten.
With the official change of the October holiday, I do recommend that the whole month of October be recognized as the month of Bahamian Discovery where the focus throughout the month be on discovering who we are as a people, passing this on to the young ones, and highlighting this exercise with the recognition of our outstanding nation builders and special heroes. Remembering that it started for us with Columbus.
H. Rudy Sawyer
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