MOVE NATIONAL AWARDS TO REPUBLIC DAY
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, September 29 2013
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Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Anthony Carmona, inspects the troops at the Commander in Chief Parade held at the Defence Force heli...
In an unprecedented development, President Anthony Carmona yesterday suggested that the Annual National Awards be moved from Independence Day to Republic Day, which is celebrated every year on September 24.
Addressing the Commander-in-Chief Parade at the Chaguaramas Heliport, Chaguaramas, Carmona said the shift should be made since Republic Day had given birth to the creation of the President, whom he said, is also the Chancellor of the Order of the Republic and the person in whose name the awards are conferred.
“Now, the President of this Republic, by virtue of his office, is the Chancellor of the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which is that society of honour established in the Constitution for the recognition and the awarding of what are commonly referred to as National Awards,” he told the gathering.
“As Chancellor, the President is responsible for the administration of the Order, which includes the awarding of the order to other persons.
“In 1976, national awards were no longer conferred in the name of the Queen but rather in the name of the Head of State, the President, whose constitutional and ceremonial authority is embedded in the Republican Constitution.”
He added, “I would, therefore, like to submit for discussion among the various stakeholders, including the national public, a proposal that next year, the annual National Awards be moved from Independence Day to Republic Day, that day which gave birth to the creation of the President who is the Chancellor of the Order and who is the one in whose name these awards are conferred.” The President, in his first Commander-in-Chief parade since being installed as TT’s fifth President, said the time had come for Republic Day to receive as much prominence as Independence Day.
He said it should not be viewed merely as a public holiday.
“I wish to take this opportunity to urge that it is time to raise the bar in how we appreciate and how we view Republic Day. It is not merely a day off but should be a day of reflection which we celebrate,” he said, adding that “our celebratory patriotic activities are still largely confined to Independence Day.”
Noting there was still much “uncertainty and ambivalence” in the society regarding the significance of Republic Day, Carmona said he envisaged a greater role for the military towards this end.
“Everyone recalls the excitement and legitimacy that the uniformed services bring to an event, just by their presence and involvement,” he said.
Carmona said such exciting educational and interactive military displays can be part of engaging the public in gaining an appreciation for all things military during the week leading up to Republic Day.
“To mark our Republic Day, we can possibly have a Military Week here in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Carmona said he has also raised with Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj the possibility of the Commander-in-Chief Parade being moved to Republic Day “and to a more public location”.
“This parade is a great delight and it is regretful that year after year it is enjoyed by so few and is virtually hidden from the rest of the nation,” he said.
In his address, Carmona also warned citizens against cultivating a false sense of security in the face of terrorism.
He said, “The stark reality in this 21st century is terrorism. It takes no prisoners. The forces of terrorism are formidable.
“We are no longer safe in this global village and too often we engage in a false sense of security.”
Referring to the death of Trinidadian Ravindra Ramrattan, who was killed in Kenya, Carmona said, “The Kenyan military, just like ours here at home, was not fighting a war but they had to be called in to effectively arrest the grim situation.”
He said the situation in Kenya clearly illustrates that the national Defence Force must always be in
a state of readiness for any even-