Every 14 March holds a very special place on the annual holiday calendar of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is National Heroes Day, a day set aside to remember Chief Joseph Chatoyer and other heroes of the nation.
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The entire month of March in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is Heroes and Heritage Month. Thus, Heroes Day falls in the midst of Heroes Month!
To better understand the biggest hero of the nation, Joseph Chatoyer, we need some background in the islands’ history. Though sighted by Columbus and claimed by Spain, France, and the UK, the native Caribs continued to control Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for centuries after other parts of the Caribbean were fully colonised.
The British made a major move to take full control of the islands in 1772, but the natives rose up in the First Carib War. Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer was the leader of the “rebels”. The result of this war was that the British had to “share” Saint Vincent with the Caribs and stay on their half of the island. But the British ignored the terms of the treaty, which led in 1795 to the Second Carib War. In this struggle, the Chief was killed and the island was conquered by the British.
You can see the very place where Chief Chatoyer died, on Devonshire Hill, in Saint Vincent, and a solemn wreath-laying ceremony takes place there every year on National Heroes Day.