by Luke Browne
Another National Heroes Day has come and gone. I therefore believe that this is an opportune time for me to repeat my call for Dr. John Parmenas Eustace (Dr. J. P. Eustace) to be named the next National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I do so on the basis of the contribution he made to the development of our nation in the field of education, as set out below.
When he was just 20 years old, Dr. Eustace started the Intermediate School (which is now called the Intermediate High School) in 1926 at the height of colonialism. In doing so, he defied the colonial policy of not providing access to secondary school education to the general population. The Intermediate School was the first non-government secondary school in the country/colony. The only other secondary schools which existed at that time were the elitist and ultra-exclusive Boys Grammar School and Girls’ High School. Obviously, Dr. Eustace was a pioneer in education.
Subsequently, Dr. Eustace started 2 other secondary schools which still exist today – the Emmanuel High School Kingstown/EHSK (now called the Dr. J. P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School) in 1952, and the Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia in 1963. Incidentally, the EHSK is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It was once the largest secondary school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, by far.
Additionally, Dr. Eustace started several primary schools.
By the way, Dr. Eustace was also the first Vincentian eye specialist and a Christian evangelist who built several churches.
What more could we want in a National Hero? What would have been the educational state of our country were it not for the intervention of Dr. Eustace? How many persons would have suffered the fate of being denied a secondary school education? I shudder to reflect on these questions. Dr. Eustace liberated many persons from idleness, ignorance and illiteracy.
In his time, Dr. Eustace did more for education than the whole government. We can consider him to be the Father of the Education Revolution. I believe that he made the most substantial individual contribution to national development. His achievements are all the more remarkable on account of the fact that he attained them without the benefit of a public platform. I do not believe that Dr. Eustace has an equivalent anywhere in the world. He literally and figuratively opened our eyes and brought us from an age of darkness into an era of glorious light.
I submit that Dr. Eustace fully satisfies the criteria for being named a National Hero as laid down in the Order of National Heroes Act 2002, in that he: gave outstanding service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and made a contribution that altered positively the course of our history; provided visionary and pioneering leadership that has brought honour to our country; and by his exploits and sacrifice has contributed to the improvement of the economic, social and political conditions of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Vincentians in general. For these reasons, I call for him to be named a National Hero, NOW!