We recently hit the fever pitch of summer. With the week-long, island-wide Regatta leading into the festivities of our nation’s Independence a lot of activities have kept us busy. And we’ve had such nice weather for it, too.
It is nice to see people from communities all over this island get together. That’s one reason I love the summer. With so many parties and events, such as the Independence celebrations behind us and the Sail Away and opening of Crawfish Season ahead of us, it allows a lot of us to get out there and see our friends and our beautiful island. As long as we don’t go overboard, we all have great times.
The Regatta is an incredible experience for both Bahamians and locals. With our gorgeous and protected waters we have the perfect setting for the sport. But beyond the competition and actual sailing, Regatta time allows us to collectively experience the joy our islands and waters present. From Green Turtle to Hope Town, everyone involved with the Regatta pulls together to create a unique event that showcases what makes Abaco so special.
And there are a lot of special things about Abaco.
And there are a lot of special things about our country.
Our country, for those of you still groggy and sunburned from the party on Fiddle Cay, recently celebrated our thirty ninth anniversary of Independence. A huge accomplishment by any measure. An accomplishment I hope we don’t begin bury beneath layers of political infighting or pompous, stiff ceremony. It’s a joyous thing, wonderful to behold and experience. So far, I think, we have approached each anniversary of our Independence with the appropriate amount of awe, respect and revelry.
I just pray the generations that follow us are able to see Independence Day not just as a big party, but also as a statement to the character of this nation. I know a few who will scoff at my statement; but this country, this archipelago of artists, dreamers and craftsmen has a character so great many others would break apart on these rocky shores like those Spanish galleons and castaway pirates of old.
We are so scattered in these shallow seas, but we are also so together. As a people we are marching into our future together. It is an incredible notion to think that, with so many things out there to pull us apart we have remained so unified.
It, again, is a joyous thing to behold and experience.
As an independent nation we are still so young; with growing pains and strife we’ll have to overcome. But I do believe we will, because it’s in our character and we must. Right now, as a nation, we are night swimming.
Yes, there are treacherous things in the dark, moonlit waters. Things with stingers and teeth and bad intentions meaning to drag us down. And we often won’t be able to see them until we’ve experienced their sting or feel the frightful current of their circling motions.
But we’re a country of strong swimmers. And we will always find shore as long as we help our fellow countrymen and women find their right stroke.
But while we’re out to sea in these true, independent Bahamian waters, let’s not forget all that makes night swimming so beautiful: the night is ours. As Bahamians, as Abaconians, as men and women from Coopers Town, Marsh Harbour, Sandy Point or Crown Haven; these waters are ours.
And the stars are shining. And the moon is out. And the sea is warm. And it is beautiful.
This country is ours and it is a marvel of both human spirit and natural wonder. Not many can trace a history as romantic, heartbreaking and rugged as ours. But we’ve survived, as improbably as a country of seven hundred islands can, and we will continue. There will be struggles as we continue out to sea, so we must always be our own advocates to raise the standards for our youth and for ourselves. We must find our path indicated by our own personal North Star and follow it. We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged by currents into depths that our country can’t stand.
That is why our Independence celebration is important. It should remind us of where we have come from and it should act like a bright star illuminating our way forward. We should enjoy this summer for all our many blessings. We are not a perfect country and we don’t live in perfect communities. But that doesn’t mean we have to simply stay afloat and be afraid of what goes bump in the night. Unless we start swimming we will drift. We need to remember we’re strong swimmers who’ve bent our backs to hurricanes and stood tall and who have consistently shown the potential for greatness.
So we must swim forward, together.