Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends. Just over 33 years ago JAGS McCartney died. I was student when he died. Many here were not born in May 1980. If he were here now he would not be a particularly old man, not yet 70. This reminds us just how young he was when he died and how much he did in his short life.
The memory and inspiration of his life and work are still with us. Strongly with us. This should inspire us as we think about our theme - acknowledge the past; build the present; celebrate a fantastic future.
We are here today to honour his memory and to celebrate National Hero’s Day. We do him neither injustice nor disrespect when we say that he was at times controversial in his life. Not everyone agreed with him. My understanding is that he did not mind that.
Today is an occasion to stop and think. To step back from daily life. To step back from the political discussions and sometimes strife that we have. We should not think about the latest media storms. Rather we should ask ourselves what legacy do we want to continue from the life and work of JAGS McCartney.
JAGS McCartney held important office on TCI. But it was not this that made him so influential. What made him influential was that he inspired and drove and led thought. He was open to ideas. The things he did and experienced developed those ideas. He thought and he made people think. He followed Winston Churchill’s advice ‘Give up your safe anchor and set sail on the troubled seas of thought’.
We could honour his memory by thinking about TCI, past, present and future. How did we get to where we are today? We are where we are a result of decisions made; actions taken; actions not taken. The choice made and the choice not made. Doing nothing is a choice. TCI should seek to understand, acknowledge and think about the past. For if a country does not honestly acknowledge its past it cannot build it present on firm foundations nor set its path for the future.
Speakers have highlighted the need for national unity. This requires thought too. What sort of country is TCI? What are the values of the people of TCI? What do the people of TCI want this country to be? What sort of Government do the people of TCI want? In dealing with these questions TCI should set sail confidently on the troubled seas of thought.
TCI is blessed by nature and with its people. And the future for TCI will be what the people of TCI choose it to be. In suggesting that National Hero’s Day is a day for thought I also leave you with the words of another hero, from a different country. Karol Wojtyla - Pope John Paul II. ‘Do not be afraid’, he said. People of the TCI, do not be afraid.