You can now listen to Antigua News articles!
This event marked Sir V. C. Bird day, a public holiday in Antigua and Barbuda that is designed to honor and celebrate the work of the nation’s most famous national hero – politician and trade unionist.
The feature address at the event was delivered by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who highlighted Sir V.C. Bird’s life of service for the people of Antigua and Barbuda and encouraged the audience to ask not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country, in the words of John F. Kennedy.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the progress of Antigua and Barbuda from the days of Sir V.C Bird to today under the leadership of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party. He also spoke about his government’s efforts to make Antigua and Barbuda an economic powerhouse.
The ceremony concluded with a march-past by military and police officers. Sir VC Bird is revered as the Father of the Nation in Antigua and Barbuda, holding the distinction of being the first premier and the first prime minister of the twin-island nation.
Despite his formal education ending at the primary school level at what was then St. John’s Boys School, Sir Vere’s astuteness as a leader was remarkable.
Sir Vere’s work experience in both the Salvation Army and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) laid the foundation for his interests in unionism and politics.
He became a founding member of the AT&LU, incensed by the treatment meted out to black Antiguans and Barbudans by landowners. Sir Vere formed the Antigua Labour Party, which became indivisible from the union.
He became the first and only chief minister of the country, was the first and last premier, and led the country to independence in 1981, serving as prime minister until 1994.
He ardently supported the West Indies Federation and was at the forefront in negotiations for the “Little Eight” countries when that collapsed in 1962.
Sir Vere led the introduction of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in 1965 along with premiers Errol Barrow of Barbados and Forbes Burnham of Guyana, which eventually led to the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
Sir Vere received the country’s highest honor, Knight of the Order of National Hero, in 1994, and the Order of the Caribbean Community, the region’s highest honor, in 1998. December 9, the day he was born, is set aside on the national calendar as a public holiday called Sir V.C. Bird Day.