Heroes' Day revisited, again

A couple of years ago I addressed the farce that was the handling of the new National Heroes' Day holiday by the government.

I wasn't alone. The Gazette's then-editor weighed in on the craziness back in Setember 2010, and it was pretty clear that the thought that the selection panel was too heavily weighted with politicians (from a single party, even) was a shared one. Essentially, government owned the entire decision-making process instead of the people. Hell I *still* don't know what they meant by "it did not work" with regard to having people who weren't politicians involved with the selection process.

Anyway, we have four selected National Heroes already cemented, for better or worse. How I would go about enhancing/revamping/overhauling this:

Immediately break up whatever current committee exists and start fresh.
Appoint a seven-member group to handle the next nomination and selection process. No more than one active politician from either political party can be represented. It would be pretty awesome if both parties declined that particular invite, to be fair (albeit unlikely). The remaining 5 (or more) can be determined by mutual agreement of the Premier and Opposition Leader, the Governor on advice from said leaders or the Independent Senators.  As mentioned previously, we should have a collection of historians, scholars, researchers and others with knowledge of the historical accomplishments (which could include present-day activities, of course) in all fields of Bermuda. Therefore, you could have those with great accomplishments in literature, sports, the environment, science, education, all being considered at the same level as your typical politician-types.

I've been weighing up the pros and cons of a public vote on the finalists; I tend to lean against it only because I don't think the majority of Bermudians (myself most certainly included!) would have more than a passing interest or knowledge of the various candidates. Even if we did our homework (the excellent site bermudabiographies.com is a very good site to begin), I don't think we'd come close to having the hands-on knowledge of the nominees that the committee would certainly possess, potential biases aside. Rather, the public should be free to suggest, publicly or via written submission, the names of said persons, to the committee for review, and those should certainly be taken into account (for example, if there's overwhelming public support for say, Clyde Best, they should push his name through immediately).

After that, the committee can deliberate and debate amongst themselves. Eventually, they should be able to come up with SIX worthy candidates to add to the four already chosen by their predecessors, it can be announced late in the year. To interject quickly, the announcement can come from the committee itself. Not submitted to a government Minister for approval. Not run by Cabinet for tweaking. Committee has final say, period. The following year, National Heroes Day can be set up for special recognition of the ten chosen heroes. And that's it. No additional members should be considered until ten years have passed. This will allow adequate time for the current crop to get full recognition, signage, inclusion on murals, buildings, public parks, etc. After ten years, if Bermuda so wishes/needs, the committee can reconvene (with new members if needed) and we can go through the process for a next group of FIVE. We shouldn't have to go through this process every single year, it's a waste of time and money when it can be done thoroughly and efficiently once every ten years.

I don't know if the new Government has Heroes' Day on its immediate agenda, it's not as critical an issue as employment, the economy, education and crime, of course. But I'd be happy if they at least took some steps to get rid of the ad-hoc, amateurish setup of the current process, and put in place a process that is clean, professional and one that Bermudians can be happy about.

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