Belize Marks 12th Anniversary of George Price’s Passing with National Service Day
Today marks twelve years since the Right Honorable George Price passed away. He died at the age of ninety-two in Belize City. He dedicated his entire life to community-service, nation-building and the revolution of Belize. The date of his death has been officially declared National Service Day. Whilst it is not a public and bank holiday, it is a day where the People’s United Party encourages every citizen to engage in an act of community service. It is also a day where an official wreath laying ceremony is conducted at the Price’s grave site at the Lord Ridge Cemetery. Today’s ceremony began just after nine o’clock this morning, hosted by PUP’s Chairman, Henry Charles Usher.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service: “Hope Ignited, Hands United, Vision Renewed, Belize at 42. That is our theme for our Independence Celebration this year. And those are three very powerful teams. Hope, Unity, and Vision. We have ignited hope in our country. We have turned things around. We are a country moving forward. But we can only do so if we are united. One country. One democracy. And of course we must always look forward. Our vision must always be to the future. I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out this morning. Thank you to all those who live here Belize by the Sea being played by our BDF band joined by the Louisiana band. And then our closing hymn will be an Army of Youth another one of the Mr.Price’s favorites. Ms. Ferguson I hope you are still here please lead us in an Army of Youth following Belize by the Sea. While An Army of Youth is being sung we will have the departure of our distinguished guests. Belize by the Sea.”
In attendance at the ceremony was the Attorney General, Anthony Sylvestre Jr., whose father was a close friend and confidant to Price.
Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney General: “On a day like this I recall back in 2010, we walked in the streets of Belize City to the burial site of Mr. Price. Mr. Price had such a phenomenal impact on all of us. On a day like today, on the eve of independence, we recall many of his teachings and his principles that he ascribed to and one of them is that the Good Belizean citizen, you know, as some of the speakers spoke to about this morning. And so I think that’s quite relevant and it’s quite timely, you know, as the Deputy Prime Minister spoke to just a while ago given the type of world that we live in and the type of society, it’s important that that we have something that anchors us and that grounds us and reminds us what we are as Beliezens and what we should be striving towards and the life and the work of the Right Honorable George Price does that and it’s indeed a very important part of the national secular celebrations to have this event and so for me it is indeed quite fitting and I relish and I cherish and value this ceremony and indeed his legacy and impact on all of us.”
The keynote address at this morning’s event was delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister, Cordel Hyde. The minister spoke of Price’s contributions to Belize, and spoke of his musings of what the great leader would say on the current issues, had he been alive today.
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “We gotta hear each year to remember the great soul to honor a man who left this earth better than he found it, to commemorate a man who figured out a way out of no way. A quiet, reticent man, he led us to independence with all our territory intact in the face of an often times belligerent neighbor who to this day still claims more than half of our territory. He did this in a time when all around us violence and mayhem were the order of the day, when the unsettling times of the Cold War were upon us. He served in the spirit of the great ones. Not every politician does that. He lived a humble life. Not every politician can say that. He died a poor man. Not every politician can recall that and that’s putting it mildly you know ? His name will be remembered forever. Not everyone will get that. He did something right. In fact, I dare say he did a lot of things right. So much so that his political party dominated for 30 straight years winning every election imaginable, a string of six consecutive general elections victories, it is a feat that will never be equaled. A testimony to the man’s leadership and core values. And we men and women of goodwill must follow in the shoes of George Price. We will never match him, but we can hope to emulate him. Think about others. Act for each other. Put others before ourselves. Forget about me. Always, always think about we. Mr. Price was our bright and morning star rising out of the pitch darkness of the night. I often think about what he would say if he were living in these times. I believe he’d probably say a prayer for us. For this new Belize is where our parents can be too taken up with their own vanity and our children too mindless consumers of the social media tragedy. This new Belize where we are deeply divided and go at each other’s chokes in a New York minute. Where oftentimes disagreements devolve into vicious takedowns and open violence, Where our young men maim and kill each other at will. He’d say a prayer because he was a prayerful man. He’d pray to the Almighty to please protect and preserve Belize, our beloved country. That we be preserved in union and in peace, which the world itself cannot give.”
The Right Honorable George Cadle Price was born in Belize City, as the third of eleven children of William and Irene Price. His father was an auctioneer and a Justice of the Peace. Price entered electoral politics in 1943, and wore many hats up until 1996 when he handed over the PUP leadership to the Right Honorable Said Musa. He was then dubbed a Senior Minister up until his retirement from politics in 2003. On September 14, 2011, Price suffered a fall inside his home. He had sustained injuries to his head. Five days later, on September 19, he passed away at the Belize Healthcare Partners at approximately 6:30am. Price was laid to rest via a State Funeral on September 26, 2011.