The news was quite heartening – that two of our finest daughters, Miss Shirlene Nibbs and Mrs. Carmen Benjamin were to be honoured for their outstanding service to Antigua and Barbuda over the years. The Queen’s Birthday Honours List cited Benjamin as an Ordinary Officer of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order for outstanding contribution to community development. Nibbs was cited to be an Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order for outstanding contribution to community and tourism development. Well done, thou good and faithful servants! Yours are honours most richly deserved.
We here at NEWSCO certainly wish to join with all Antiguans and Barbudans in celebrating this landmark achievement with two ordinary Antiguans who did extraordinary things in a most extraordinary way. They were not born great, neither did they have greatness thrust upon them. Nay, they achieved greatness by dint of devotion to duty, self-sacrifice and an undying love for our fair Antigua and Barbuda. They are an inspiration to us all.
Consider. Carmen Benjamin has spent practically her entire life in service to others – visiting the sick, the shut-in and the elderly, and filling numerous and various roles in her church and community. And she did it all in a most charming and gracious manner. The seeds of love that she has sown in her community and church have borne, and will continue to bear, much good fruit.
Shirlene Nibbs is a fierce competitor who will fight to the last breath for that in which she believes. As a student in the Sixth Form back in the late 1970s, (oops, we’re revealing her approximate age. Even though she does not look her calendar years), she represented Antigua and Barbuda in the inter-island debates and brought home the trophy. The topic on which she battled St. Kitts in the finals was, “The Rastafarian Community In The Caribbean Has Done More Harm Than Good!” She fought for that community back then, and she is still fighting the good fight for our communities now. She has been labouring in the tourism vineyard almost since she completed her studies, and as a tireless planner, advocate and ambassador for our little bit of paradise, she has few equals. May her efforts on our behalf continue to blossom and flourish.
Of course, when we honour those who have applied themselves assiduously for God and country, we must also follow their examples. The well-known verse by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow comes quickly to mind, “Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.” They are shining exemplars, and we would do well to follow in their footsteps!
Again, here’s to you, Sisters Carmen and Shirlene. You have done the sisterhood, and all of Antigua and Barbuda proud! You have led the way! Indeed, we can join with King Solomon in declaring, “Many daughters have done wondrously, but thou excellest them all!” Congratulations are in order!
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