Caribbean Heroes

The Right Doctor Honourable Vere Cornwall Bird Sr

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The Right Honorable Doctor Vere Cornwall Bird Sr, Antigua’s first prime minister.
Sir Vere Cornwall Bird was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 1981-1994. Although he lacked any formal education aside from primary school, his work experience in both the Salvation Army and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union sparked his interests in unionism and politics. He was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945, and became the founding member of the Antigua Labour Party. In 1994 he was declared a national hero.

One sure thing can be said of VC Bird, he loved Antigua and its people. This love drove him to enter the field of politics so that he could lobby for the people against the colonial landowners. His drive, conviction and passion for Antigua propelled VC Bird to assist in the independence process for Antigua in 1981. If it wasn’t for his passion Antigua would not be entering its 30th year of Independence.

Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr. (9 December 1910, St. John's–28 June 1999, St. John's) was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. His son, Lester Bryant Bird, succeeded him as Prime Minister. In 1994 he was declared a national hero.

Bird was unique from other West Indian politicians, lacking in any formal education except primary schooling. He attended the St. John's Boys School, now known as The T.N. Kirnon Primary School. He was an officer in the Salvation Army for two years interspersing his interests in trade unionism and politics. He gave up the Salvation Army because he saw the way the land owners were treating the local black Antiguans and Barbudans; and decided to leave his post to fight for the freedom of his people, which he succeeded in doing. In 1943, he became the president of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union. He achieved national acclaim politically for the first time when he was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945. He formed the Antigua Labour Party and became the first and only chief minister, first and last premier, and first prime minister from 1981 to 1994. His resignation was due to failing health and internal issues within the government.

In 1985 Antigua's international airport, which was first named Coolidge, was renamed V.C. Bird International Airport in his honour.

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National Heroes’ Day is a public holiday in Antigua and Barbuda celebrated on December 9th. Every year on December 9, the people of Antigua and Barbuda celebrate the lives of the country’s heroes that by their example and significant contributions to the country have changed the history of Antigua and Barbuda for the better.
The date was chosen because it was the birthday of V.C. Bird, the first ever Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, was traditionally celebrated on December 9.

The objective of National Heroes’ Day is to bring forth in the memory of all Antiguans and Barbudan’s the memory of those fellow men and women that have in some way lead the history of the country forward toward a prosperous and fraternal Antigua and Barbuda. The day serves to rediscover these great persons and inspire new generations of citizens. The national heroes to be remembered each year are:

1.  Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, First Prime Minister and leader of the country into Independence from Britain

2.  Sir Vivian Alexander Richards, cricketer legend voted one of the five best cricketers of the century

3.  Dame Georgiana Nellie Robinson, educator and leader in education and protection for all children in the country

4.  King “Prince Klass” Court, leader of the slavery revolt that freed the country from slavery regulations

5.  Sir George H. Walter, second Premier of Antigua and Barbuda and advocate of full independence for Antigua and Barbuda from the British

The Right Doctor Honourable Vere Cornwall Bird Sr

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Categories: Antigua & Barbuda