Unsung heroes, the backbone of a nation

Monday, October 15, 2018

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Both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips had much to say about community in their National Heroes' Day messages.

Focusing on the long, hard struggle to combat criminals, Mr Holness urged communities to work with the security forces, who all too often are asked to put their very lives on the line.

The prime minister observed that, though members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are having to deal with the “challenges, and points of disgruntlement over conditions and other terms of service, the security forces have stepped up in defense of community and country.

We are at one with the prime minister that this professional, positive attitude by most members of the security forces, despite hardship, is worthy of being called heroic, and it is something that will endear them to the crime-weary public.

In such circumstances, the least the police and army personnel on the front line should expect from communities is full cooperation. Sadly, as the prime minister pointed out, a long-running culture of distrust for the security forces has often made such cooperation difficult.

So, then, Jamaicans who steadfastly share information with the police are “heroes”, says Mr Holness.

Dr Phillips, in zeroing in on community building, pointed to the importance of volunteerism being so crucial in the drive towards Jamaican nationhood in the last century.

Real heroes and heroines, he suggested, included those who serve in community organisations and offer help to the most vulnerable.

Said he: “Fortunately, there are thousands of our ordinary Jamaican citizens whose daily contribution to nation-building makes them national heroes and heroines in their own right. We would do well to emulate these Jamaicans who continue to give voluntary service every day.”

Like 29-year-old Ms Charlene Dixon — a St Thomas cosmetologist and nominee for the 2018 Prime Minister's Youth Award — who, inspired by the example of her late grandmother, has made service to others a way of life.

Recognising that generosity on a purely individual or personal level could go only so far, Ms Dixon formed a charity group Bless to Bless Foundation that is now raising funds to help the elderly, send children to school, and assist those in need of health care, among much else.

Note Ms Dixon's observation of the effect of the newly formed charity in bringing focus to the lives of young people: “…it pulls together the young people in the communities… When we do our projects a lot of young men, in particular, would come and help and they are excited to help as well…

“The foundation is teaching them the value of charity and volunteerism, and I think it is great when you can get young people to be a part of something good...”

And further, her thoughts that “if you are a part of a community and you see where you can help someone, then you should not wait on Government…”

We think heroism and wisdom make for a perfect blend. That profound example by Ms Dixon represents the best of our Jamaican people and marks an enduring trait which will be celebrated today in the annual National Heroes' Day awards presentation ceremony at King's House.

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