Pomp and ceremony filled Hero’s Square in George Town on 27th January, Grand Cayman for the 2020 Hero’s Day Honors.
Held since 2003, Hero’s Day is an opportunity for the community to honor those whom have contributed to the development of the Cayman Islands and its people through song, dance, artifacts and public life.
This year’s honors included the pioneers of the Cayman Islands’ first written constitution, the first four women to ever run for an election (known as the phenomenal 4), as well as over three hundred signatories of the first petition for women to vote.
Women fought for over 11 years to have the right to vote in the Cayman Islands, beginning in 1948, leading to the “Sex Disqualification Removal Bill”, which paved the way for women’s rights in the arena of politics.
Those being honored, as the first four women to stand in a general election include Mrs. Ethel Rose Kensington Cook-Bodden Cert. Hon.; Mrs. Lilly Burdel Jackson; Mrs. Francine Jackson; Mrs. Laurel Watler.
It has now been 60 years since Cayman’s first written constitution and this year’s Hero’s Day Honors’ mission was to,” ...raise awareness of this guiding document”, noted Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin.
Mr. McLaughlin, whose grandfather was one of the first members of Executive Counsel, noted that the Cayman Islands’ first constitution came at at time when there was much change happening in the region, with Jamaica deciding on independence and the CI government opting to remain under British rule, instead of being directly under Jamaica.
The arrangement struck by leaders of the small Island nation at the time gave the Cayman Islands more autonomy and stipulated that the Islands to control entry to its border, matters on tax and control over standard channels of trade and employment.
“Some wanted to break away with Jamaica and some wanted to stay with the United Kingdom and we agreed that we needed our own constitution at this time of great change,” noted the Premier.
He added that the Vestry Men at the time then took the necessary steps to see this through to completion, leading the way for the Legislative Assembly and the formation of the Executive Council, paving the way for other major developments that would shape the Cayman of today.
It was not until 1959 that the first written constitution became the seminal event that birthed the Cayman Islands into the financial and tourism mecca that it is today.
“The 1960s Companies Law that followed Cayman’s first written constitution, built the financial industry,” he remarked, adding that money which came in from the registration of companies allowed the Islands to begin to tack its mosquito problem in earnest.
During Monday’s proceedings, Speaker of the House the Honorable McKeeva Bush read the Proclamation to officially open the 2020 Hero’s Day celebrations, before the symbolic ‘pink queen’ conch shell was blown, harkening back to a time when our fishermen would return home with their bounty.
This was followed by the pageantry of marchers representing the Royal Cayman Islands Police, The Boys and Girls Brigade, the Fire Department and the Scouts regiments.
A special One Dollar Note/denomination was also issued for the occasion, with everyone in attendance receiving their very own to take home. The Bill will go into circulation later this week.
National Heros for the Cayman Islands include James (Jim) Bodden; William Warren Connolly; Thomas William Farrington; Sybil Joyce Hylton MBE; Sybil Ione McLaughlin; Dr. Roy McTaggart; Ormone L. Panton OBE; Desmond V. Watler CBE, JP; Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon.
Several busts were also unveiled in Hero’s Square on Monday, 27th January, including one for the first woman ever elected in the Cayman Islands, Mrs Sybil Ione McLaughlin.