President David Granger: Honourable Carl Greenidge, acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Honourable Carl Singh, Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Orders of Guyana; Dr. he Honourable Barton Scotland, Speaker of the National Assembly; members of the disciplined forces; Your Worship, Mayor of Georgetown; most important, the national awardees today; distinguished invitees, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen:
Let me join in congratulating all of the awardees. Some awards of which were, as I told them in their ears, much deserved, but much delayed but certainly I’m very satisfied that all of the awardees today deeply deserve their awards and I’d like to start by congratulating them all. [Applause.]
My only regret is that a few were not able to be here today because during the course of this year, after the awards were announced, they died, particularly our good friend Professor [Doris] Rogers.
Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, Guyana became an independent nation fifty years ago on the 26th of May 1966. National Independence was an opportunity to reduce discord and to create a truly cohesive nation. Our national motto, ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’, exemplifies this aspiration. Guyana, at Independence, established its own institutions such as the National Assembly, crafted its National Motto, unfurled for the first time its National Flag and sang its own National Anthem and National Song.
The new state in subsequent years introduced a plethora of national symbols such as the distinctive coinage, stamps, monuments, and of course its national holidays. Guyana, in 1970, became a cooperative republic and in so doing removed the last vestiges of constitutional dependency on the United Kingdom.
It was at this time in 1970 that Guyana introduced a system of National Honours to recognise the outstanding service by its citizens to the country. National Honours are not ornaments; they are symbols of nationhood and, as the Chancellor of the Judiciary explained, they are much deserved.
They promote a sense of national identity by defining who we are in the world and by proclaiming the values for which we stand. They reflect our ambitions and aspirations to improve the quality of life and to encourage emulation from younger generations to represent our desire to be more fully integrated as a community of citizens with common ideals.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, National Awards are an acknowledgment of the service of citizens, male or female, rich or poor, from the coastland or hinterland, servicemen or private citizens, who’ve given and who continue to give selfless service to our communities and to our country.
National honours are the ultimate recognition of a grateful nation, but we must never again neglect these honours or their conferral on the base of caprice or whim. Such neglect is contempt for our Constitution and the denial of our nationhood. Guyana will continue to pay homage to its deserving citizens by respecting its institutions of national honours and by appointing persons to the orders with regularity and consistency.
Guyana celebrates the awardees’ achievements and consecrates their record of sterling service. The service they have rendered will not be ignored or disparaged.
We congratulate all of the awardees. We wish them continued, selfless service and success.
I thank you.