by Linda Straker
- Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, several of his colleagues as well as dozens of civilians were killed on 19 October 1983
- A meeting with some families affected by 19 October events contributed to change in date
- National Organising Committee to reschedule launch of Independence Day activities to 31 October
The Government of Grenada has decided that 19 October 2023 is not the best date to launch the 50th independence celebrations because of the significance of that date in the history of the country. The new launch date will be 31 October.
On 19 September, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and Dr Wendy Crawford, Chairman of the National Organising Committee (NOC) for the independence celebrations jointly announced that 19 October will be a public holiday, and this year it would be used to launch the 50th independence celebrations.
“Since this announcement we have received from Grenadians both within the homeland and those residing abroad heartfelt appreciation for the Government’s pivotal decision to establish 19 October as a national holiday, recognising it as a remarkable milestone in our nation’s history. However, notwithstanding this positive feedback, we also carefully considered the concerns raised by members of our community concerning the decision to merge the independence launch with the events of 19 October,” Dr Crawford said during a news conference on Wednesday, 4 October 2023.
“Some have voiced reservations with this twinning and respectfully requested a reconsideration of this approach. In response to these concerns the NOC convened with various members of the public to listen to their perspectives, we took their recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet who in a demonstration of leadership, wisdom and a commitment to fostering national unity have agreed to separate the 2 events,” she said.
“Consequently, they have directed the NOC to reschedule the launch of the Independence Day activities to 31 October, allowing the event planned for 19 October to get the national attention it rightly deserves.” Dr Crawford explained that a meeting with some of the families affected by the events of 19 October contributed to the change in date.
From the time of the announcement in September, several citizens via radio and social media platforms expressed approval to declaring 19 October a holiday but objected to twinning it with the independence celebrations.
Among the people objecting are Dr Keith Mitchell, former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader who felt that the decision was not a smart one. “I think it is a very controversial decision, I think some people may be happy and some people will not be happy. I don’t think it should be twinned with the Independence celebrations, it should be 2 separate events,” Dr Mitchell said in a news conference on Tuesday, 3 October 2023.
“Why would we want to begin the process of re-imagining the next 50 years on the day that represents the most gruesome historical moment since Grenada’s independence on 7 February 1974? Why would we continue to pour fuel on the ambers of history to rekindle pain and trauma and further polarise a divided society?” wrote Dr Wendy Grenade, political scientist and social commentator in a Facebook post.
19 October 1983 is the day former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his colleagues as well as dozens of civilians were killed in a coup that led to the end of the People’s Revolutionary Government which overthrew the Eric Matthew Gairy administration on 13 March 1979.
Crawford said that 19 October will now be called National Heroes Day. Orlando Romain, member of the NOC, said the first batch of heroes as well as the location for a national heroes park will be named on 19 October 2024