In Kingston, Jamaica, National Heroes Park contains a series of statues devoted to key figures in the country’s history, including independence leader Alexander Bustamente and pan-African crusader Marcus Garvey. As a way to honor the figures commemorated in this park, the Jamaican government has established National Heroes Day. The holiday officially replaced the celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, although she still receives military honors during ceremonies.
The first group of national heroes was designated in 1965, the year of the centenary celebration of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion, a pivotal moment in the quest for independence from Great Britain. The first commemoration took place in 1968. As more heroes were added to the official list over subsequent years, National Heroes Day expanded to become National Heritage Week .
A typical ceremony held on the Monday that concludes Heritage Week is the National Heroes Day salute. Local parishes all over the island hold award ceremonies to honor community figures, while at National Heroes Park a main ceremony takes place that features a speech by a national leader, typically the prime minister.
Jamaica Cultural Development Commission
3 Phoenix Ave.
Kingston, 10 Jamaica