We must continue to cherish our freedom – Johnson Smith
Fifty-eight years of Jamaican Independence was the focus of thanksgiving to God for Jamaicans across the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area who came together last Sunday via a virtual church service organised by the Embassy of Jamaica and the Jamaican community in the US capital.
Against the backdrop of this year’s Independence theme, ‘Resilient and Strong: Let’s Celebrate Jamaica 58’, and a sermon challenging Jamaicans to stand their ground for righteousness, truth, and justice, this was the first-ever virtual Independence thanksgiving service for Jamaicans from the District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia region and beyond. It was held virtually to abide by restrictions on in-person gatherings as the world continues to reel from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith emphasised, in her pre-recorded video message to mark the occasion, that “as we reflect on and celebrate our nation’s Independence, we are also mindful of the struggles of our forebears, the strength of character and purpose that our history and culture exude”.
The minister issued a charge to her compatriots in the diaspora, saying that having celebrated Emancipation Day on August 1, “we must continue to cherish the freedom and empowerment that it symbolises”.
“Irrespective of where we are, Jamaicans have and will continue to advance the stature of our beloved country on the international stage. We are so proud of the countless Jamaicans who have experienced tremendous success in all spheres of life and who have been formidable forces in shaping global discourse and action on a wide range of issues,” she said.
ACTS OF KINDNESS
Johnson Smith lauded members of the diaspora for the myriad acts of kindness by so many, “assisting our fellow Jamaicans, neighbours, and even complete strangers who were displaced overseas during the height of the pandemic”.
The minister said: “The Government is truly grateful to you, our diaspora and friends of Jamaica, for your unwavering commitment to our efforts to bolster Jamaica’s socio-economic development, particularly during this crisis.” She further explained that “in keeping with our foreign-policy objectives of building partnerships for national development, my ministry remains focused on expanding our engagement and collaboration with you, our diaspora”.
Audrey P. Marks, in her welcome address as Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, observed how this year’s commemoration had taken on a sombre note as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.