Belize observed its second public and bank holiday on Monday, March 6 in lieu of March 9 for National Heroes and Benefactors Day. The holiday was initially dubbed Baron Bliss Day until the passing of the Right Honorable George Price when it was generalized for all Belizean heroes and benefactors. Despite the name change, however, the annual tradition of a wreath laying ceremony at the Bliss Lighthouse in Belize City remained. The official ceremony got underway just after eight o’clock during which veteran journalist and women’s advocate, Annmarie Williams paid tribute to Philip Wilberforce Goldson.
“He was truly a man ahead of his time. In his fifties Goldson found time to fulfill one of his many dreams, he went to London to read law. The longest serving member of the house of representatives he had a few accolades in life. In 1989 Belize International Airport was named the Phillip SW Goldson International Airport. In 2001 just prior to his death he received the order of Belize for his sterling contribution of patriotism and politics, not to be out done he received posthumously in 2008 Belize’s Highest Honor the Order of National Hero, certainly worthy of his sacrifice. The northern Highway was also renamed in his honor and on September 29 of 2015 the Government of Belize opened the Goldson House for Democracy and Patriotism to all Belizeans and visitors alike. Goldson died on October 3rd 2001 after a long illness. He was truly a man ahead of this time.”
Right Honorable George Cadle Price was also given tribute via a presentation by John Waight.
“Mr.Price’s career was indeed successful. He was elected to the town board six times serving two times as mayor. He was elected to the legislative council from 1954-1961 and then to the legislative assembly until 1984. He served as first minister from 1954 to 1961, as premier until 1981 and as Prime Minister until 1984. He again served in that capacity from 1989 to 1993 and a senior minister from 1998 to 2003. Mr.Price was the recipient of numerous international forms of recognition, among them membership of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, the Order of Belize, the Order of the Caribbean Community, The Jose Marti award from Cuba, the Eagle Award from Mexico and the Simon Bolivar award from Venezuela. Mr.Price’s commitments to the Catholic Faith and to the attainment of independence of Belize and once this was achieved to its continued development. He was a born leader and man of extraordinary vision, high morals and ideals who had absolutely no attachment to material wealth. The most striking thing about him however was his genuine concern for the well being of his fellow men as the highest of God’s creatures and his continued efforts to bring out the best in all he encountered. He remained humble and unassuming throughout his life wishing only to be remembered as a good Belizean who left the world a better place than he found it.”
Retired public officer and former Brigadier General, Allan Usher paid tribute to Baron Bliss.
“On the 9th March 1926 Baron Bliss died aboard his Yacht in the Belize City Harbor never having set foot on Belizean soil. In his will the Baron meticulously set out the arrangement under which is executors would invest his money and use the income from such investment for the permanent benefit of the country of Belize and all Belizeans. His will called for the formation of a trust headed by the governor and comprised of the Colonial Secretary and the Attorney General. Shortly after his death on the 9th of March the day 9th March was declared a holiday in this country. Today the capital of the trust remains above $2.4 million Belize dollars most of which is held in treasury notes and other securities as required by the Baron’s will. The story of Baron Bliss is a unique one, his generosity to Belize is unparalleled. He is indeed Belize’s greatest benefactor.”
Following the arrival of the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Colville there was the general salute and the inspection of the BDF Guard of Honor as well as the laying of the wreaths at the tomb of the Baron and the placement of portraits of both Price and Goldson. The wreaths were laid by the Governor General, Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber on behalf of the government and Joseph Waight on behalf of the Baron Bliss Trust. In attendance at this year’s ceremony were the Brownies, Girl Guides, Rangers, Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and Youth Cadets as well as a class from St Mary’s Primary School.