Through the vision, determination and commitment of some brave men and women, Barbados has been moulded into a country that we can all be proud of. As a result, in 1998, parliament wanted to recognize those people and the great contribution that they selflessly made. As such in April of that year, Prime Minister Owen Arthur announced that April 28th would be celebrated as Barbados’ National Heroes’ Day. The day would serve as a means of both taking pride in post-independence nationhood and also recognizing the contributions that Barbadians have made. Prime Minister Arthur also announced that Trafalgar Square in Bridgetown would be renamed National Heroes Square.
April 28th Declared a Public Holiday in Barbados
According to the Barbados’ Order of National Heroes Act, those people that have “given outstanding service to Barbados”, “contributed to the improvement of the economic and social conditions of Barbados”, and demonstrated “visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attainment of the highest excellence” will be honored every year on April 28, a day set aside as National Heroes’ Day.
April 28th was chosen in honor of the birth of Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, one of the ten national heroes remembered every year.
Each of the ten received the title “Right Excellent” as part of the act. They are Bussa, Charles Duncan O'neal, Clement Osbourne Payne, Errol Walton Barrow, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Sarah Ann Gill, Sir Frank Walcott, Sir Garfield St. Aubrun Sobers, Sir Grantley Adams, Sir hugh Springer. The act was amended in 2009 to confer extra privileges to living heroes. More information about these heroes can be found on our website under the National Heroes category.
National Heroes Act
On April 1998, the Order of National Heroes Act was passed by the Parliament of Barbados. According to the government, the act established that April 28 (the centenary of the birth of Sir Grantley Adams) would be celebrated as National Heroes' Day. The act also declared that there are ten national heroes of Barbados. All of which would be elevated to the title of the The Right Excellent.
National Heroes Square
National Heroes Square is formerly known as Trafalgar Square and located just across the street from the Parliament Buildings in the city of Bridgetown.
National Heroes Square was transformed as a means of demonstrating gratitude for and awareness of the ten national heroes of Barbados.
It is also the home to a large bronze statue of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, which was erected in 1813, and was actually there before the one in London! However as this statue does not commemorate a Barbadian, it was moved from its prime position to the edge of the gardens in 1990. A statue of Lord Nelson still remains which was previously called Trafalgar Square.
National Heroes Square is situated in the capital and main commercial centre Bridgetown which is on the island nation of Barbados. The square is located along Upper Broad Street and is on the northern shore of the Careenage.
The current name of National Heroes Square, Bridgetown was taken up on April 22, 1999.
How We Celebrate the Day
It is absolutely important that our young people are constantly exposed to the contribution that was made by our national heroes. Schools are particularly involved every year with spreading awareness of Barbados’ national heroes to the youth. Special historical presentations, re-enactments, and games are a typical fare for Barbados’ youth.
Outdoor activities are common in Barbados on this day. Games like hockey, soccer, and even chess are but to name a few. In April and May of 2009, Barbados had its first Heroes Day Cup, a chess tournament celebrating the people and history of the game, with festivities tied directly into the National Heroes’ Day festivities.
Numerous celebrations take place at Heroes Square. There's food, music, and even fireworks come alive with many stalls giving others the opportunity to discover more about Barbados’ culture and the people that have shaped it over the years.