Your Excellency Governor Alistair Harrison and Mrs Harrison, Father of the Nation, Mr James Ronald Webster and Mrs Webster, Dignitaries, Fellow Anguillians, Friends, and visitors to our island --- GREETINGS on this Anguilla Day
Although a special day is set aside to recognize our revolutionary Leader Mr. James Ronald Webster, it is in order for us not only to recognize him today, but also to recognize all the other Heroes and Heroines who joined in that struggle 44 years ago.
Let us observe a minute of silence as we think of those who have since died and thank God for all who took part in that struggle to make Anguilla a better place for all of us to live in.
[I MINUTE SILENCE] --- THANK YOU
Commemorating the past is a good time for stock-taking.
44 years ago what were we fighting for?
1. Is it not for Freedom? ---
We wanted to be free to govern ourselves.
Free to be able to uphold and maintain our culture.
Free to plot our own destiny.
Free to seek a better way of life for our families and those yet unborn.
It was Rousseau the French philosopher who said: “Man is free but everywhere in chains.”
That is true, and we recognize that we cannot be an island to ourselves, we have to live in community with others, but we believe that we ought to have that CHOICE.
As an act of our freedom we chose not to be associated with St. Kitts but rather to be with our Mother Country.
As a Parent we believed that our Mother would promote and not impede our desire for self-determination. Together with the voice of United Nations General Secretary Ban ki Moon we reiterate the call for self determination on this our 44th Anniversary of the Revolution and we expect for Her Majesty’s Government to facilitate the process.
2. As we take stock, the SECOND thing we ought to recognise is that the success of the revolution 44 years ago was the fruit of our UNITY. Everybody at that time was fighting a perceived enemy for a better life.
Life in Anguilla today is different. We have been operating on a Party system of government, and the nature of a party system demands division. When however our difference is philosophical then it is possible that in the same family different members can back different parties and yet the family can function as a cohesive unit.
In Anguilla, unfortunately, the difference in the various parties is not philosophical and so I would like to urge Anguillians that whatever our political affiliation might be, we should first and foremost be Anguillians and be UNIFIED as Anguillians in the pursuit of our Freedom—the pursuit of achieving that dignity of self-determination.
Anguillians will have to think seriously about that future. It has become even more evident that in the formulation of legislation we are in so many ways appearing to be importing cultures that are foreign to Anguilla.
As a matter of fact I have seen, the use of the word “Crown” being interpreted not to mean the “Government of Anguilla”, but the “Queen”. So that by extension Anguillian lands which are owned by the Crown are in essence not belonging to you the native People of Anguilla, but are owned by a Power some 4000 miles away.
We will therefore have to decide what will be the destiny of this little island we call ‘the Rock’. Will we be a People known to the world as Anguillians, or, Belongers? Will we be a people with a Culture and Identity that distinguishes us as an entity in this place we call our World? Or will we let the erosion of all that we hold dear to US as a People continue --- leaving us being simply absorbed culturally, religiously and socially by a greater Administrative Power?
It will take all of US to make that Decision and I urge all Anguillians to be vigilant. The current throes of our sister territory Turks and Caicos Islands who are now faced with a Constitution being thrust upon them by our Mother and which they have so far rejected should be of grave concern to us.
Likewise, and quite recently the situation in the Cayman Islands where their Budget has been rejected three times by the Mother even as it was with us is a constant reminder that we are not yet in control of our own Destiny.
3. In the THIRD place permit me to say a word of thanks to our Civil Service.
Many have worked tirelessly around the clock to keep the wheels of government grinding.
A special word of congratulation is due to our Financial Unit who made us proud in providing our Budget. We ought to feel truly proud to know that our local technical team could produce a budget, though not acceptable to the technocrats in the Foreign Office, but upheld by the international experts.
That bespeaks volumes in our favour, in our quest and thrust for internal self-government.
4. FOURTHLY, the year that is past has not been without difficulties from without and within.
However this is not the time or the place to enumerate past difficulties. Suffice it to say that for some of us difficulties produce ENDURANCE and ENDURANCE is a good test of CHARACTER and CHARACTER is anchored in HOPE. Taking on these difficulties has strengthened our resolve.
I am committed, together with my other Ministers who share my vision of lifting Anguilla out of this serious financial crunch which we inherited and putting it on a surer footing than how we met it.
I have HOPE for a better Anguilla---I have HOPE, as is our motto for our 44th Anniversary that we as a People will Strengthen Our Core By Doing More.
My Administration is committed to work for a better Anguilla---and notwithstanding the current adversity, I ask that we stand as one People, linking hands now, as we did in 1967, sharing the same vision to a better future as we did in 1967 and more importantly learning from the mismanagement of the past so that Anguilla will never find itself being plunged into the financial chasm that the People of this Country endured and are still enduring.
I hope and pray that all of us on this 44th Anniversary of our Freedom will commit ourselves to going forward in our thrust for a better Anguilla as we determine the future of our Constitutional status.
May God bless us all and may He continue to Bless Anguilla.