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WASHINGTON–Bahamians living in the Washington, D.C. area, U.S. government representatives and scores of dignitaries and diplomats from other countries joined Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, C.A. Smith, at a lavish reception recently to cele

WASHINGTON–Bahamians living in the Washington, D.C. area, U.S. government representatives and scores of dignitaries and diplomats from other countries joined Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, C.A. Smith, at a lavish reception recently to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Bahamas becoming an independent nation.

Held in the stately Hall of the Americas of the Organization of American States building on 17th Street and Constitution Avenue in Washington, the reception was the highlight of several events organized by Smith and his staff at the Bahamas Embassy to mark the historic occasion of the Bahamas obtaining its independence from Great Britain on July 10, 1973.

The internationally acclaimed Grand Bahama Chorale flew in from Freeport, Bahamas to participate in the celebration and delighted the audience with stirring performances of both the Bahamian and American national anthems as well as several Bahamian folk songs at the OAS reception.

They were also featured in an hour-long concert at the People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The celebrations were capped by an independence church service Sunday at Holy Comforter Anglican Church on Oglethorpe Street in northwest Washington, where Canon Kortright Davis is rector.

However, the guest preacher for the occasion was Rev. Fr. Curtis Robinson, rector of St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Smith’s Point, Grand Bahama, who, along with his wife, were guests of Ambassador and Mrs. Smith for the independence celebrations.

In his address at the OAS reception, Smith noted that Bahamas has “a proud past and it is that past which impels us to ensure that we have a bright and promising future.

“The global economy is facing a difficult period, but we must remain resilient and stand firm in the midst of these tumultuous times,” Smith said.

“We need to ensure that our country remains competitive in the global market with a highly skilled workforce and an environmentally friendly society where business can prosper and our people thrive economically.”

Speaking directly to Bahamians in the audience, Smith noted that many of them had come to the United States in search of a better way of life, and “for whatever reason, some of you have made the decision to remain in this country, and many of you have done well for yourselves."

“You have gained skills, expertise, professionalism and experience, which if used in partnership with Bahamians at home, could assist in our goal of making your Bahamas one of the best little countries in the world,” Smith said.

“It is now time for you to come back.”

Smith challenged the Bahamians to “commit yourself to doing what you can, no matter how little it might seem, to establish a legacy for others to follow.”

“We can all share what talent we have with those less fortunate at home,” he said. “I am looking for fellow Bahamians who want to invest in the future of our country. I vision one or more Bahamian organizations in Washington led by Bahamians and dedicated to impacting positively the land of their birth by entering into partnership with their school, their island community or a social institution. There are many ways to partner.”

He suggested that they might do so “through a financial contribution to a library, a homework center or computer lab at your old school.

“You might want to adopt a local school and provide books, sporting equipment or even team uniforms,” the ambassador said.

“Then there are the various community projects, which could always use assistance. We can explore further ways in which we can work towards the development of our country. Just as generations before us have invested into our lives and inspired us, we owe it to the younger generation of Bahamians to do likewise.”

Smith referred to the independence anniversary celebration’s theme: Celebrating a proud past and looking forward to a promising future. He noted that it “is so fitting for the times in which we live.

“When we pause to think of our past, we in the Bahamas have much to celebrate,” he said. “The Bahamian economy registers the third highest income per capita in the western hemisphere, following those of the United States and Canada.”

Smith observed that in spite of higher energy prices and global economic factors, inflation in the Bahamas remains low at around two-and-a-half percent and the Bahamas is well positioned “to cushion the shocks attendant to these factors.”

He emphasized that the Bahamas’ long-standing democratic tradition “gives us another reason for which we are to be proud.

“The first meeting of Parliament held in September 1729 heralded in a sustained period of parliamentary elections with smooth transitions from one government to the next,” Smith said.

“While this continues to today, Bahamians everywhere have demonstrated a firm commitment to our democratic values and to the rule of law.”

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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