Amidst the pageantry of flags, a glistening uniform parade and colourful decorations, people gather on the fourth Monday of every January to celebrate National Heroes Day. On this day in Heroes Square, located in the centre of the capital, the country honours its National Heroes and awards others who have given exceptional service to their country in one of the largest national celebrations of the year. The day’s events are centred on a selected theme and include an official ceremony, cultural heritage displays, delicious local food and the recognition of those who have been steadfast in their contributions to the promotion and preservation of the theme.
National Heroes Day has been observed as a public holiday since Cayman’s Quincentennial Celebrations in 2003. At that time, a Wall of Honour was unveiled with the names of 500 citizens who made a significant impact to the development of the country. This tradition continues today, with awards in the categories of Early Pioneer, Pioneer, Emerging Pioneer, Long Service and Memorial Scroll.
To date, the Cayman Islands has recognised nine National Heroes: the Hon. James (Jim) Manoah Bodden; Mrs. Sybil Ione McLaughlin, MBE; Mr. Thomas William Farrington, CBE, JP; Mrs. Sybil Joyce Hylton, MBE; Mr. Desmond Vere Watler, CBE; Ms. Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon.; Mr. William Warren Conolly, OBE, JP; and Dr. Roy Edison McTaggart.
Encapsulating the splendour of that very first celebration, Mr. Harris A. McCoy III stated, “As a Caymanian, it was so enjoyable to see our people embracing our past with such admiration as we do our present. Caymanians are great people in a great country, and it made a difference to us all to show it, say it and believe it.” It is with that same resoluteness that we pay homage to our newest recipients.
Author: Courtesy of The Cayman Islands National Archives