The National Celebrations Commission officially opened the 2015 September Celebrations on Sunday, August 30th, at St. George’s Caye. Under the theme “Belize renewed: Confident, Competitive, and Committed,” the upcoming weeks will see celebrations that highlight two important days in Belizean history, the 217th anniversary of The Battle of St. George’s Caye and the 34th anniversary of Belize’s Independence. The event saw the attendance of many patriotic Belizeans along with dignitaries such as the Governor General of Belize His Excellency Sir Colville Young, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation and Chairman of the National Celebration Commission Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr, Chairman of St. George’s Caye John Searle Jr. and several members of the diplomatic corp.
Events kicked off at 11AM with invited guests making their way to the ceremony grounds. Protocol was established with singing of the National Anthem by Jael August. Bishop Glancy then delivered a profound invocation thanking the Almighty for the well-being of Belize.
The official welcome was delivered by Chairman of St. George’s Caye, John Searle Jr who spoke a little bit about the history of the battle of St. George’s Caye and the great significance it has for the nation of Belize. He urged all Belizeans to take a moment during the upcoming weeks of patriotic celebrations to really think what the celebrations are all about. “There are great events during the September celebrations; however I believe there is more. Remember Thomas Paslow, who at a subsequent meeting with some of the settlers who were reluctant to go through with the activities to defend the territory, told everyone that any man not prepared to defend this country should not be able to reap the benefits thereof, this was recorded in the minutes of that public meeting. Remember Thomas Patts who is featured on our $5 dollar note and James Barckley and all the other Baymen who regardless of their personal preferences committed themselves to defend the settlement once the decision was made. Many of these Baymen are buried here at this St. George’s Caye cemetery. Remember Coronel Thomas Barow captain of the HMS Merlin and all the other Baymen, black and white, free and enslaved who stood shoulder to shoulder to turn back the Spanish Armada on September 10, 1798 at the battle of St. George’s Caye,” stated Searle. He emphasized that without these men, the settlement would have ceased to exist and most likely Belize would be a Spanish territory today. Searle ended by highlighting the different events leading to our independence day and once again encouraged all Belizeans to stop and think about the reason for the season.
In Honorable Heredia’s address he spoke about the importance of being patriotic Belizeans and following the transformation of the country in different aspects such as the environment, the people, and the economy along the footsteps of sustainable development. “This transformation has provided our beloved nation the ability to confidently and effectively continue building on the vision of our forefathers. That vision of a prosperous, united, free and independent Belize. This process was initially incited 217 years ago here on this very island as a group of heroic individuals stood their grounds united and fought against overwhelming odds to not only defend their homeland, but to protect their rights to pursued their unique way of life and freedom. I will like to emphasize that it was also here on St. George’s Caye, our first capital that the seed of nationhood was first plant and it was the same unconquerable spirit of our ancestors that Belizeans united again under one flag and declared our freedom from Great Britain in 1981.” Heredia ended by saying that this united spirit has allowed the country to prosper in various fronts such as environmental sustainability, health care, education, infrastructural development, and in the unprecedented growth the country has seen in tourism.
Heredia also formally awarded Police Inspector Ricardo Chi for coming up with this year’s September celebrations theme.
After the formalities the event continued with musical and cultural entertainment by the Pandemonium Steel Band along with Trio and Nello Player.
Guests were also invited to a delicious lunch and had time to explore St. George’s Caye before departing.