Ten heroes leapt from the pages of history into the hearts of Barbadians on the night of April 28, 1998.
It took Barbados 210 minutes and a cast of 230 people to give nine men and one woman – Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Bussa, Sarah-Ann Gill, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Clement Payne, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Hugh Springer and Sir Frank Walcott – tributes they had earned centuries and decades ago.
After a fortnight of anticipation, the skies were illuminated with dazzling fireworks and laser lights in a watershed event that touched the country across social, racial and political lines.
Thousands of citizens joined state officials, clergy and artists outside Government Headquarters – on barricaded Bay Street – to witness the inaugural National Heroes Day which unfolded in speech, song and dance.
The day was also the centenary of the former’s birth, and a bronze, life-size statue of the island’s first Premier and only Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation was unveiled by Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands. The monument had been shrouded in the Federation Flag until the moment of revelation which met with tumultuous applause.
Uncannily, the heavens cried as citation orator, Professor Henry Fraser, told of the man called “Moses” and how he led his people from social slavery. The rains lasted just the duration of Sir Grantley’s tribute.
Another defining moment was the emotional and unrestrained reception accorded “the greatest cricketer the world has ever seen.”
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