Jamaica Celebrates 50 Years of Independence

8/16/2012, 3:38 p.m.

A Message from Professor Stephen C. Vasciannie, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States

Amidst the shrill of excitement, Olympic athleticism, and national pride, Jamaica, recently celebrated fifty years of independence. Stringers for the Informer, on the ground in London , have eagerly shared photos of the simultaneous celebrations - Independence and medals for superior athleticism won by Jamaican nationals around the globe. Here, we gladly share those photos with our readers, as well as a message prepared especially for the Informer from the Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States, Stephen C. Vasciannie. Congratulations!

Every Jamaican - even the most pessimistic -- has a pep in their step today. Consider, first, the great symbolism of our successes during the time of Jamaica 50. Our athletes have willfully decided to dig deep into their resources to honor simultaneously the country's history and its independence. In so doing, they have drawn inspiration from the heroes who have gone before them. They have recalled Arthur Wint, Herb McInley, George Rhoden, Les Laing, from the heroic times of 1948 and 1952. They have been elevated by earlier performances of Don Quarrie, in Montreal. They have shown continued admiration of Deon Hemmings, Merlene Ottey, Grace Jackson, Juliet Cuthbert, and all the great names.

So, now, we have wonderful additions to the pantheon of stars, our Valhalla of victorious sprinters: Usain "Lightning" Bolt, Sherry-Ann Frazer-Pryce, Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Warren Weir, Hansle Parchment, Sherone Simpson, Kerrone Stewart, and many others.

A second observation concerns the provision of opportunity. Most of our athletes are not from wealthy backgrounds. They are not persons of privilege. But they are persons of determination, and, when given the opportunity, have seized it with enthusiasm. Their grasp of opportunity should inspire us to expand our success well beyond the sporting arena to other areas: to continue success in intellectual pursuits, investment promotion, trade competitiveness, and more generally, economic advancement for all.

And a third observation concerns the centrality of the individual in the development process; for, the success of our athletic stars is in significant ways the triumph of the individual. Usain Bolt carries an entire nation with him - from Half Way Tree and beyond - but his effort is that of an individual. As members of the collective, Jamaica, we recognize that the talents of extraordinary individuals can lift an entire nation. They have truly inspired us from Half-Way-Tree all the way around the world, and back!