Dr. Gilbert says Sir Joseph France would not be surprised at the advancement of ordinary people under the present Labour Government

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 28TH 2013 (CUOPM) – One of the Federation’s National Heroes who has been described as quiet and unassuming would not be surprised at the massive infrastructural development and the improvement in the quality of life of the ordinary people in home and land ownership and education.

“(The Right Excellent Sir) Joseph N. France nonetheless never backed away from a challenge. And the greater the challenge the more convincingly he rose to meet it. He always put others people’s interests first, never lost the common touch and in spite of his countless accomplishments, remained a simple man, living a humble lifestyle in modest accommodations,” said Dr. Vance Gilbert at Sunday’s Requiem Mass giving thanks to former Labour Movement stalwarts who have made a sterling contribution to the Nation and People of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“He (France) and his Labour comrades of the day understood that the working masses were the motive force behind social progress. They understood that the dedication and focus of the people of these islands, the people for whom and with whom they worked, would, indeed, always be the decisive factors in positive social transformation and the creation of a more open and just society. They knew that the masses at that time needed and deserved social and economic change, and they knew that it was those same masses, through sheer tenacity and hard work, which would bring that change about. It from the ranks of those masses that the outstanding Founders of this great Labour Party emerged, proving that what had been holding our people back had never been a lack of ability, but simply a lack of opportunity,” said Dr. Gilbert to the congregation that included Governor General His Excellency Sir Edmund and Lady Lawrence, Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin, Members of Cabinet, the Speaker, the Hon. Curtis Martin and members of the National Assembly, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and officials of the Labour Movement.

Dr. Gilbert said Mr. France and the other founding fathers of the Labour Movement encouraged, and strengthened, and guided the people of these islands so that the current Labour Administration could pick up where they left off, with the people of this country occupying positions for which their ability equips them, and leading to the socio-historical development that has been so dramatic throughout the history of our federation.

“Without the leadership of yesteryear, the poor of our nation would never have been given the opportunities that are today allowing their off-spring and off-spring for generations to come, to aspire and achieve, in ways that their parents and grandparents could never have imagined. Without their leadership, none of us in this church, and none of us in these islands – unless we were members of the plantocracy – would have what we now take for granted – the right to vote, free education, healthcare, freedom of speech, loans and scholarships for university education. In other words – the right to hope and dream. And all of these blessing are the direct result of the vision and sacrifices of our fallen heroes continued and built upon by those who are carrying the torch that they lit eighty-one years ago, today,” said the Cuban trained medical practitioner..

Dr. Gilbert boasted that if Comrade France was alive today, he would not be surprised to see the over 4,000 houses that have been constructed by the Labour Government that he began, allowing so many to elevate their economic and social situation just as he had hoped for.

“He would not be amazed at the well-built, solid homes that are now commonplace in every village, every corner of this country owned by the descendants of the enslaved. If Comrade France was alive today, he would not be surprised by the hundreds, alas thousands of professionals who now live in confidence and optimism all throughout St. Kitts and Nevis as a result of the Labour Governments of his time and this one,” said Dr. Gilbert saying with pride: “He would be pleased indeed to know that the second to last child of poor country people from Tabernacle would get the opportunity the study medicine, and stand here today, paying homage to him and those who worked alongside him in this annual address.”

“He would not be surprised to see the number of young people who will leave our shores in a few months to go off to distant and foreign lands to pursue higher education reaching as far as Taiwan – because this is what he, and Bradshaw, and Southwell had dreamed of. And this is what they would expect this Labour Government to be doing, as means of honoring them. And he would be pleased to know that these same young people will one day return to our land, like I did, to continue the work of others that had made so clear a path for them.”

Dr. Gilbert continued:

“If Comrade France was alive he would not be surprised to see the development we have seen in the healthcare where health care is accessible, available and integrated all around our federation. Where local sons and daughters of the soil are at the helm of every sector of the healthcare system.

If he was alive, he would not be surprised to see the infrastructural development that has occurred all around our land for this was, indeed, his of vision. And this Labour Government has remained true to that vision.

None of these advances would surprise Comrade France.

If Comrade France was alive today, however, he would be very surprised at the current political atmosphere in which we find ourselves today. He would find it hard to understand the actions of some. He would be hurt to see certain attacks on the institutions that he and others worked so hard to build. But Comrade France was a man of positivity, and faith, and confidence. As are we. And so, with FULL CONFIDENCE we move on. Because I also know that he would be pleased to see our united labour party, our stronger labour party, our party which has approached this situation with clinical skill to ensure that this great party continues doing the work of the people it has been called to serve.

He would be pleased to see a united cabinet with a strong leader that commands the respect and support of the majority of the Members of Parliament, while steering this country ahead through difficult and trying times but to a greater and brighter future. He would be happy to see that the party still attracts young people who are willing and ready to serve , to stand up in the midst of the stormy seas and be counted and say I am ready I am ready to serve. He would be proud to see that women have taken leadership roles within our country and indeed our party; and he would smile, I am sure, to see that Marcella Liburd, a female – and an outstanding female at that – has assumed the role of Chairman in the Party that he worked so hard to build.

He might say to us – Hold on, thou good and faithful servants. He might say, press on and carry out the task laid before you with dignity, humility and with faithfulness and thus shall be your eternal reward.

He would remind our present leaders to remember why they became involved in public service. Perhaps it was an isolated incident, perhaps it was a great passion to make a difference, maybe it was something as simple as seeing your parents go through such hardship to make ends meet, that motivated you to try and make a difference. He might remind us that there are good days and bad days, days when you will not always see eye to eye. There will be those days when you question your very reason for being, there will be days when the painful conversation must be had when as leaders you are forced to say I’m sorry we have done all we can, there is no funding yet, the global recession is till affecting our economy.

And there will be those days when a mother sees you across a room and smiles with gratitude or that woman who will shout your name hard in the middle of Basseterre as she remembers a promise fulfilled. The days that makes you proud when one of the children from your constituency graduates from university and returns to serve. Those are the days that make you proud, they days when all the training, the sleepless nights , the phone calls, the criticisms, and all the frustrations of the things you can’t control somehow converge to lift you up and focus your attention on what it means to serve, to serve the people of this great federation of ours.

He might tell us to remember that service means putting others before ourselves – job numero uno. Whether it means ensuring the our education system is accessible, progressive and of high standard, or that we develop universal health insurance and put in place a long service gratuity to ensure all our women and men who have worked so many years can have something at the end of the day. That service means developing a tourism product second to none, it means ensuring that every home has a computer and that we become a computer literate nation. It means ensuring that we continue to providing opportunities for all people, at all levels of society, to advance themselves. That service means continuing to provide alternate energy in this era of global energy challenges.

What other job can one name that provides the chance to impact thousands of people’s lives for the good on a daily basis? What else could one do that would put to the test, every day, and one’s commitment to the values of honesty…and respect…and fairness…and tolerance…and innovation…and compassion? Only in public service do we get to show up every single day, challenged to be our best for other people in every single decision, every single action, every single hour.

And today, as we pay tribute to our fallen comrades, we remember that Comrade France and the others FALLEN LEADERS of our great party stood up every day of their lives, knowing that they could not do everything, but always tried their very best to do whatever they could, to the best of their ability, for the lasting benefit of us all.

May we, like them, forever do our best, regardless of the challenges, ‘For the Good That We Can Do.’ May God continue to honor the memory of our fallen comrades. And may God continue to bless us and guide us each day and every day. Thank you.”

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