Photo 1: PM Harris inspects guard at 2016 Independence Parade.
Photo 2: The St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force Band leads the parade of troops to Camp Springfield.
PM Harris: Independence anniversary ‘too important not to celebrate’
Basseterre, St. Kitts – September 19 is usually a special time of the year for all nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis as it marks the day that the federation became a sovereign state after gaining independence from Great Britain. However, this year’s occasion was void of the traditional celebrations as powerful Category 5 Hurricane Maria battered the twin-island federation on that day, causing estimated damages of more than $88 million.
While delivering a national address on Sept. 23, Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris announced the cabinet held discussions with the governor-general and decided that the originally scheduled activities would be held Oct. 7. At his monthly press conference Oct. 3, Harris said that “independence was too critical an event in our post-colonial journey to become masters of our destiny and development, to pass without commemoration and celebration.
“Accordingly, I remind all that this Saturday, Oct. 7, shall be a public holiday,” the prime minister stated, noting that the Independence Parade will open the day-long commemoration at 8 a.m.
The ceremony will be held at the Warner Park Cricket Stadium and will feature armed platoons from the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force and its Coast Guard unit, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the cadets. Unarmed units from the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services, Her Majesty’s Prison, Port Authority Security and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department, as well as uniformed community groups will also participate in the parade.
At the end of the parade, the troops will march to Camp Springfield, where Gov.-Gen. His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton will deliver his toast to the nation. Prime Minister Harris will also address the gathering and traditionally recognize the visiting diplomats who come to the St. Kitts and Nevis to participate in the day’s events. Later that evening, senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, dignitaries and other invited guests will gather at Government House for the Independence Cocktail Reception.
The prime minister issued an invitation for all residents to participate in the open events.