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Let Us Reflect This National Heroes Day and Thanksgiving Day

by Lou-Ann Jordan Oct 19, 2023

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On 19 October 2023, Grenada will observe a new public holiday, as announced last September by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell. National Heroes Day, which is instituted in honour of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, will give our island a chance to pause and fully acknowledge the tragic events of one of the most notable incidents in the country’s, and possibly the Eastern Caribbean region’s, history.

Scheduled activities will begin on the 19, the date of Bishop’s and others’ untimely deaths, and continue through the following week, culminating on Thanksgiving Day, 25 October. The public holiday itself will include a mass, a wreath-laying ceremony, speeches by ministerial representatives and family members, and cultural performances at the National Stadium.

As we embark on a new chapter, we are thankful for the opportunity to remember our fellow countrymen who lost their lives and honour the men and women whose actions inspire national pride. Moreover, we continue to pay homage to those whose actions helped restore order to our nation.

It is easy to take the peace and progress we experience now for granted, but we must not forget that they came at a cost. So, as we observe our first-ever National Heroes Day, followed by Thanksgiving Day, let us reflect on our past and how it has shaped our present.

Photo taken from BBC Radio 4

What happened in October 1983?

In October 1983, the People’s Revolutionary Government was overthrown, and political unrest wreaked havoc on the country.

Uncertainty and suspense prevailed as the then Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, was placed under house arrest. Bishop was subsequently freed but later executed along with some of his supporters. His death led to a Ruling Military Council that issued a curfew on locals with the threat of death for anyone violating the order.

On 25 October, under the direction of former President of the United States Ronald Reagan, American forces were deployed on a mission codenamed ‘Operation: Urgent Fury’. The goal was to reestablish peace and order in the country. However, this was no easy feat, as the foreign troops met great resistance from the Grenadian Army.

Reflections: 40 Years Later

Many are the stories that regale us 40 years later. For example, some speak of the call for young men to join the revolutionary forces, and others remember the ensuing tension that filled our small island. Many say they will never forget the staccato blasts of gunfire and the loud chopping sound of helicopters flying overhead.

With the passage of time, it’s almost inconceivable that there was such unrest on this incredibly serene island. It may even be challenging to imagine the intensity of emotions that would have stirred our people to such actions.

Each year draws us further away from the emotions but not the memories of that time. We remain thankful for their vision even while we grieve their deaths. Also, we are grateful for the sustained peace and democracy we enjoy as a people.

Let us pay tribute to those who have passed and those who have done us proud.

Sources: Grenada Information Services and Loop News.