OECS Commission Hosts Joint Independence Milestones.
THE OECS Commission’s headquarters was the scene for a special flag-raising ceremony last week as its employees from Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica jointly observed milestones in the respective countries independence from Britain.
The flag-raising ceremony at the OECS Commission’s courtyard at Morne Fortune came a week after a similar exercise was held there in observance of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ 36th anniversary of independence.
Antigua and Barbuda observed its 34th anniversary of independence from Britain on November 1 while Dominica observed its 37th anniversary of independence on November 3.
Last Tuesday’s ceremony was a short one, comprising the raising of both countries’ flags, singing of their national anthems and offerings of prayers for the two OECS member states.
Communications Officer at the OECS Commission, Raymond O’Keiffe, gave a brief account of his native Antigua and Barbuda’s progress as a nation since its first Prime Minister, Vere Cornwall Bird, led the nation to independence in 1981. Antigua and Barbuda, he said in his remarks, continues to overcome the global economic challenges and remains determined to transforming itself into a Caribbean economic powerhouse.
“Just like the OECS region remains fervent in its collective resolve, so too, do the people of Antigua and Barbuda understand the requirements of hard work, determination and unity of purpose towards achieving our goals,” O’Keiffe said.
O’Keiffe also encouraged Tropical Storm Erika-hit Dominicans to remain resilient as their independence takes on significant meaning since the island’s infrastructure was decimated following the August 27 storm that also left many dead.
Oliver Seraphin, who served as Prime Minister of Dominica between June 1979 and July 1980, also made remarks at last week’s flag raising ceremony. Seraphin said Dominica’s path to independence was not an easy one, to the extent that many Dominicans felt the country was not ready to become independent at the time the push for it was being made.
OECS Director General, Dr.Didacus Jules said the flag raising ceremonies will become the norm at the OECS Commission whenever member states observe their respective independence anniversaries.
“(This) is an opportunity for us to deepen our consciousness as staff of a regional organization about the accomplishments, trials, tribulations, history and pride of the member states that we serve,” Dr. Jules said.
He added: “When we reflect on the meaning of independence for these countries and what they’ve been through, we see a textured picture. There is a great deal to be grateful for, a lot to be proud of in the accomplishments of these member states.”
Dr. Jules also cited the recent positive reaction and support from member states following Tropical Storm Erika’s passage through Dominica. Such outpouring of love and support, he said, augur well for the OECS region’s progress as a family.
“At every level of society in the OECS, people responded with empathy, concern and solidarity,” Dr. Jules remarked. “This is what we need to take forward into the future if this OECS unity is to be assured.”