Guyana celebrates the forty-sixth anniversary of the establishment of the Republic today. The Republic Act of 1970 ended the incongruity of having the Queen of Great Britain as the Queen of Guyana.
It also ended the British Honours system – that of Knights, Dames, Commanders, Companions, Officers and Members of the British Empire – the Empire of which Guyana was a part for one hundred and fifty years.
The termination of the imperial system of awards provided the opportunity for the initiation of a national system. It is fitting, therefore, that this day – the anniversary of our Republic – should be selected as the day on which the State honours citizens and groups of distinction.
National Awards are a supreme symbol of our statehood. They are the greatest gift that a grateful nation can offer. Awards are the embodiment of the spirit of our people; a spirit, which is manifested, similarly, in our National Anthem, our National Flag and our inspirational National Motto – One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
Our national pride is expressed in our beloved, bold and beautiful Coat-of-Arms. This magnificent emblem depicts the insignia of State authority; the Cacique’s Crown, our National mascot; the Jaguar, our National Flower; the Victoria Amazonica, our National Bird; the quaint Canje Pheasant, our principal occupations; farming and mining and our three great rivers; Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo – the arteries of our green land.
National symbols, like National Awards, are ordained by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, our supreme law. Guyanese cherish these dear symbols of nationhood. Their significance is not to be devalued.
The Medals of Service which you received will not depreciate with the balance of trade. The parchment with which you have been presented will not disintegrate with age. The acclaim of this congregation is not to be discredited.
National Awards constitute an important institution of the state. It is my personal obligation, as Chancellor of the Orders of Guyana, to discharge my duty to our deserving citizens and to pay respect to those to whom respect is due.
We are the trustees of the traditions which sustain society. That is the custom of our people. That is the convention of good government. That is the culture of a good society.
National Awards, it must be iterated, have not been conferred capriciously. They have been ordained by the Constitution of the Orders of Guyana. Invitations for nomination were notified in the media throughout the country. Selection was done by the Advisory Council of the Orders of Guyana under the distinguished chairmanship of the Chancellor of the Judiciary.
The Medal of Service, the award of which this investiture ceremony celebrates, acknowledges the achievements of groups – that is, of collectives, cooperatives and communities.
The Medal of Service honours associations, corporations, organisations and other groups. Their sacrifice, selflessness, success and service to their communities, country and society have been consistent and of a high quality. The Medal is an acknowledgement of your ‘service.’
National Awards are a reflection of the respect and reverence of a grateful nation. We know that you have laboured over a long period of time. These Awards, indeed, were reserved for those who have distinguished themselves in the service of the nation.
We applaud your accomplishments. We appreciate the outstanding service that you have rendered. We commend you for your commitment to the common good.
Guyana encourages you to continue, through precept and example, to serve your country and community. Civil society and non-governmental organisations are deserving of admiration and emulation by the nation, particularly by young Guyanese.
Our nation was built by the combined efforts of our people, political parties, trade unions and cultural, economic, religious and social organisations. We need you to continue your good work.
The Republic is proud of you all. Let this ceremony be an occasion for national celebration, commendation and congratulation.
You, the awardees, have now been inducted in the national ‘Hall of Honour.’ The nation celebrates your achievements, consecrates your sterling service and congratulates you. We wish you continued success in the future.
May God bless you all! May God bless Guyana!
I thank you.