September Celebrations 2010 kick off at St. George’s Caye
On September 10th, 1798 a battle between the Spaniards and the Baymen (the first recorded European settlement in Belize in 1638 - shipwrecked British sailors who settled and cut logwood for export to Europe) was fought at St. George's Caye. Against all the odds, the Baymen defeated the Spaniards. Britain gradually assumed more control over the settlement and in 1853 a Legislative Assembly was established, and it replaced the existing simple form of democracy that was instituted as the Public Meeting. In 1871 Belize became a Crown Colony with Legislative Council and a Lieutenant Governor. Today, over 200 years after, this day is still celebrated as a national holiday and forms part of a month long celebration.
The calendar of events for September 2010 for the country of Belize is jam packed with activities and festivities across the board. Sunday August 29th, 2010 marked the official Opening of 2010 September Celebrations under the theme "United and Proud. Moving Forward. I am Belize" The opening ceremonies took place at the St. George's Caye Cemetery on Saint George's Caye.
Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Rene Villanueva. Notable presence of his Excellency Governor General Colville Young and Lady Young, Hon. Manuel Heredia JR. and Mrs. Heredia, U.S. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally. The day included presentations by: Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture: Dr. Jaime Awe, Ms. Diane C. Haylock co-chair of the September Celebrations Committee, Mr. John Searle, Jr. among other distinguished guests and visitors.
After the National anthem by the Belize Defense Force's marching band and invocation by Rev'd Lynda Moguel, Chairman of the Community Council of St. George's Caye, Mr. John Searle Jr., welcomed all present to the official ceremonies. This was followed by an address by Chairman of the National Celebrations Commission, Hon. Manuel Heredia in which he re-iterated the importance of the small island in the history of our nation, and the battle that paved the way for our nation to be the nation it is today.
Leading up to the September celebrations, entries were welcomed form the general public for a theme for this year's celebrations. With a total of 73 submissions for consideration, the winning entry was submitted by Mrs. Amada Balam of August Pine Ridge in Orange Walk, Belize. Ms. Balam, along with her husband and son, was in St. George's Caye where she was presented a check for $1,000.00, by Hon. Manuel Heredia.
On September 1st, 2009, the island of St. George's Caye (SGC)was declared a National Historical Landmark Site. This year the community was further honored by the signing or Statutory Instrument which declared the SGC Cemetery an Archeological Reserve and the declaration of change of status from the Community of St . George's Caye to St. George's Caye Village. In a presentation by Dr. Jaime Awe, he made mention of the various artifacts and skeletal remains that were un-earthed within the confines of the Cemetery dating back to the time of the battle of St. George's Caye and its earliest settlers.
In a telephone interview with Mr. John Searle, Community Chairman, he spoke of the importance of St. George's Caye being granted the status of a Village to the residents; "This is something we have been working on for some time now, however it was until three years ago that we really started to push for the status change - the residents of St. George's Caye would like to enjoy the benefits of the "Village Council Act". Overall, Mr. Searle would like to see the community of St. George's Caye more active in the day to day happenings of the Island. As a Village being run by a Council, he hopes that the community will have a little more control over what happens on the island and decision making process. He explained that while the island does not reach all the requirements to be named a Village - St. George's Caye was the first capital of Belize and as per the Village Council's ACT - any community t hat held the status of a village prior to the passing of the Village Council Act - would retain its status. It is under these grounds that the proposal was taken to Cabinet and on Tuesday August 24th, 2010 Cabinet accepted the proposal granting the change of Status to a Village.
After the unveiling of a permanent plaque declaring St. George's Caye a historical site by Ms Diane C. Haylock, Silas Sabal entertained the audience with his original, "Rememba Septemba" song, followed by a beautiful rendition of "I Am Belize" by Berne Velasquez, Shawn Saldano and Tanya Carter. Music was followed by the Youth Connection Band as lunch was served.
San Pedro Sun