[Congressional Record Volume 154, Number 49 (Monday, March 31, 2008)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E442-E443]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         HON. CHARLES B. RANGEL

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, March 31, 2008

  Mr. RANGEL. Madam Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Grenada on 
the commemoration of its political independence and to commend its 
selection of Eric Matthew Gairy, the country's first prime minister, as 
its first national hero. He led his country to independence from 
Britain in 1974 and served out his term amidst those politically 
charged and tense early years.
  It is imperative for a nation seeking to move forward to cull its 
collective memory and pay homage to the men and women whose sacrifice 
and heroism in the past created the opportunities of the present. 
Grenada is applauded for its efforts to do just that, announcing along 
with Gairy 15 other awardees who have stood up for the island nation 
over the course of its 34 years. Congratulations, Grenada.

                   Grenada: Eric Gairy National Hero

       St. Georges's Grenada, CMC.--Former Prime Minister Sir Eric 
     Matthew Gairy was named as the country's first National Hero 
     and a number of outstanding nationals honoured as Grenadians 
     celebrated 34 years of political independence from Britain.
       Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that Gairy, who 
     became this Caribbean country's first Prime Minister after 
     leading the former British colony into Independence on 
     February 7, 1974, would be the nation's first hero under the 
     recently passed National Honours Act.
       The new piece of legislation provides for 15 people to be 
     recognised annually for outstanding services to Grenada as 
     part of the independence celebrations.
       Among the first batch of awardees was deceased Grenadian-
     born regional broadcaster Leslie Seon and Leslie Pierre, 
     editor of the weekly Grenadian Voice newspaper, who was made 
     a Knight Commander for his contribution towards the 
     development of the Scout Movement and Journalism in the 

[[Page E443]]

       ``Well I don't know who put my name there but I have done 
     my part,'' said Pierre, who was putting together this 
     weekend's edition when the representative of the National 
     Hero's Commission made the announcement to the thousands who 
     were attending Independence Day celebrations at the National 
       The other awardees announced by the Committee include 
     former teachers Eleanor Pilgrim and Lorraine Ramdhanny who 
     received the Spice Isle Award. This award is awarded to two 
     people who have rendered valuable service to Grenada in any 
     field of human endeavour or for other humane action.
       Joel Mark and Veronica Alexis received the Camerhogne 
     Award, which is awarded to two citizens who rendered 
     meritorious service in the furtherance of national prestige 
     or for gallantry. Mark was the first Grenadian Sailor to 
     cross the Atlantic on a solo voyage while Alexis is a retired 
       The Medal of Honour was presented to Commissioner of Police 
     Winston James; former Principal Ursula Antoine and well known 
     mas player Evelyn Mark.
       Honorary awards, which are presented to non Grenadians 
     whose work has impacted on the development of Grenada, went 
     to USA citizen Rev. Melville Schaper and Formula One racer 
     Lewis Hamilton, whose parents are from Grenada.
       Schaper is the founder of the St. John Christian Secondary 
     School which was opened here 42 years ago in one of the most 
     rural villages in the country.
       Governor General Sir Daniel Williams was honoured with the 
     first Companion of the Order of Grenada award.
       In his address Prime Minister Mitchell indicated that the 
     later in the year a number of streets and buildings will be 
     named after some prominent Grenadians who have made 
     significant contributions towards the island since gaining 
     independence 34th years ago.
       ``This Government is of the view that after 34 years of 
     independence, it was time to develop a system that recognized 
     Grenadians from every background all of whom have done many 
     different types of work in building our nation and shaping 
     our society.
       ``There are those who have made genuine contributions to 
     our industrial development as a whole and who have headed up 
     major initiatives in the corporate sector or who have given 
     outstanding service to the community. Our new system of 
     national awards sought to recognise them all,'' the Prime 
     Minister said.
       On the eve of independence the main opposition National 
     Democratic Congress (NDC) called on the Mitchell 
     administration to commit to naming the country's 
     international airport after former leftist prime minister 
     Maurice Bishop.
       ``We believe that the time has come, as this whole nation 
     is moving towards genuine reconciliation and an understanding 
     of its history, that the airport be named after the leader 
     who perhaps did the most for its coming into being,'' NDC 
     Deputy political leader, George Prime said.
       The Point Salines International Airport was constructed 
     under Bishop's administration with Cuban aid.