The annual Barbados National Heroes Service of Commemoration in New York was held on April 27 at 4 p.m. at the Calvary and St Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn. The three-hour programme – Builders of Our Nation – included traditional and popular hymns, Bible readings, sermon, poetry and musical tributes to our Heroes.
In his sermon, the Rev. Haynesley Griffith, founder and chief executive officer of the Barbadian-based Family Heartbeat International Network Inc., and an ordained minister of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, expanded on the theme Hero, using words from our National Anthem to present a perspective and response to current existing economic circumstances.
In a message well received, the licensed professional pastoral therapist and member of the American Association of Christian Therapists quoted Debi Mazar to frame his point of view.
“A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people and who really deeply cares.”
Rev. Griffith argued that while our Heroes possessed these qualities, though not listed, there is another Hero in our national history, with a proven track record of excellence that transcends all heroes. This Hero is everlasting, superior, understands our needs and is always ready to help in time of need.
Said Rev. Griffith: “Thanks to Irving Burgie, in our National Anthem we find these words, ‘The Lord has been the people’s guide for past 300 years. With Him still on the people’s side, we have no doubts or fears. Upward and onward we shall go, exulting, free; and greater will our nation grow, in strength and unity’.
He continued: “It is no secret that Barbados is today going through major economic challenges. Barbados at home and abroad can decide to meet the challenges with fear or faith, as an ally or adversary, friend or a foe; rise to the challenges or fall prey, or confront them or shy away from them . . . . Dwight Eisenhower said before the war that it’s not the size of the dog that fights, but it’s the size of the dog in a fight.”
Rev. Griffith further contended that the Lord was still in charge; that He was not nervous about what was happening, and that Barbadians must realize that with God’s strength we could still perform miracles to lead us to a place of safety.
“We must be proactive and know that each and every one of us has a role to play.”
Rev. Griffith, author of the premarital counselling manual Securing The Foundation Of Marriage Before Building The Family, advised us to be proactive, and know that as with the Heroes, every one of us was talented, and had an important role to play in the recovery.
The service, led by Rev. Oral Walcott, commenced with the presentation of the United States and Barbados flags by two members of the Barbados Ex-Police Association and after the national anthems, national pledges, and processional hymns, Consul General at New York Lennox Price welcomed those in attendance.
“As we celebrate National Heroes Day,” the consul general said, “it is important that we pause and reflect on the sterling contribution which our National Heroes have made to the political, religious and sporting landscape of Barbados. As a nation, we have benefited from the individual and the collective contribution of our Heroes, and there is no doubt that our Heroes have made a lasting contribution, and are, therefore, deserving of any praise that has been bestowed upon them. There are also other loyal sons and daughters that we need to celebrate at this time: our parents, teachers and those stalwarts within the community that have made significant contributions to our lives.”
Consul General Price, who demits office in June, took the opportunity to thank publicly all those who helped and supported him in any way. He also presented Delores Grandison with a Humanitarian Award.
Other contributors were music – Joseph Waterman, Mrs Margaret Parker Rollock, Anderson Clarke, Phil Brathwaite, The Combined Voices; readers – Mary Cozier, Janice Smith, Ashlin Alleyne; poetry – Malcolm Best; and saxaphone – Jeffrey Grannum.
Members of the St Lucia and Trinidad Consular staff also attended.
Ultimately, this celebration service – though not as well attended as past services – presented an important and undisputed message in word and song, as contained in the sermon and highlighted by the Phil Brathwaite’s excellent rendition of the gospel song No One Is Greater.