“National awards not an ornament but symbols of nationhood” – President GrangerMuch deserved but long delayed were the words of President David Granger, after presenting 86 exemplary Guyanese with the ultimate recognition of a grateful nation at this year’s National Investiture Ceremony held at the National Cultural Centre on Thursday.Head of State, President David Granger presents Chief-of-Statf of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier George Allan Lewis with his Military Service StarWith much pomp and fanfare and in the presence of distinguished members of society and members of the diplomatic corps, this year’s recipients were bestowed with Guyana’s highest national awards; namely the Order of Roraima, the Cacique’s Crown of Honour, the Golden Arrow of Achievement, the Medal of Service, the Military Service Star, the Military Service Medal and the Disciplined Services Medal for Meritorious Service.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Umax Adolphus Scotland was presented with the Order of Roraima for his committed and high standard of service in Guyana’s diplomatic quarters, parliamentary service and in the legal profession.Senior Counsel Rex Herbert McKay, was also awarded the Order of Roraima for his long, dedicated and outstanding service as a legal practitioner in Guyana for decades.Those were the two highest awards at the 2016 Investiture Ceremony this year, with the Order of Excellence being Guyana’s highest national Award.NationhoodFollowing the handing out of the 86 awards for the evening, President Granger who is also the Chancellor of the Orders of Guyana was in high praises for the awardees and sought to point out that the national awards were not an ornament but rather the symbols of nationhood.According to the President, the presentation of the awards was recognition and appreciation to patriotic Guyanese for their selfless service and also serves to promote a sense of nationhood. He urged all to reflect on the aspirations and ambitions of those awardees and that their contribution should serve for others to emulate.According to the President, for the nation to present its citizens with the awards is an acknowledgement of the contributions of a citizen male or female, rich or poor, servicemen or civilian. In what could be read as a subtle swipe at preceding administrations, the President was adamant that bestowing such awards on deserving citizens should not be done in a capricious manner or at the whims of anyone, since such a practice could very well be considered unconstitutional. He committed his Administration to ensuring that national awards are bestowed on citizens on a regular basis.PatriotismChancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh, who also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Orders of Guyana, was equally emotive in his praise of the awardees in the presence of relatives, friends and well-wishers.Chancellor Singh recalled that the names of the awardees were in fact made public on Independence Day of this year, making this year’s ceremony a two tiered one, since the actual conferring of the awards were only now being had. He told the awardees that with the conferring of the insignias on each of them, they will be recognised apart from the other citizens for their patriotism and contributions to the nation and its development over the years.The awardees, he said, were selected by the President himself – assisted by the advisory council – since they were the persons identified and with “whom he was pleased and saw fit to confer with national honours.” Recalling the words of world renowned statesman, Sir Winston Churchill, Chancellor Singh told those in attendance, “we make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”According to Chancellor Singh, “for today’s awardees, it is what they in their individual pursuit have given to Guyana, a recognition of their contribution to growth and development of our country.”MeritAwards, Chancellor Singh said, “are made for courage and bravery” and he named the highest national awards that can be bestowed on a Guyanese citizen.He sought to impress on the awardees that the recognitions constitute lasting mementos of “achievement by the men and women of our country whose love and loyalty to their country, their patriotism, their discipline and their dedication to duty has earned the recognition which brings them to today’s ceremony.”According to the Chancellor of the Judiciary, “all Guyanese should seek in their own way to contribute to Guyana as today’s awardees have done… We should each determine for ourselves those qualities which are best suited to unify our country other than divide it, to heal the wounds of our nation, rather than to aggravate its injuries and to secure for generations to come the peace happiness and prosperity of Guyana.”Following a moment of silence in recognition of past awardees Head of State, President Granger took to the dais at the centre of the patriotically adorned stage of the National Cultural Centre.Sustained and dedicated serviceThe first to be accompanied by the smartly and ceremoniously dressed ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was Senior Superintendent of Police Maxine Graham.She along with Assistant Police Commissioner and Head of the Presidential Guard, Brian Joseph; retired Divisional Commander of the Guyana Fire Service Bernadete Adman;s and retired Senior Superintendent of Prisons Trevor Small; were each presented with the Disciplined Services Medal for Meritorious Service.The Military Service Medal was presented for distinguished service beyond the normal call of duty to GDF Colonels Paul Anthony Aurthur and Nazrul Hussain.Newly appointed Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier George Allan Lewis was bestowed with the Military Service Star for service of an exceptionally high quality and for going beyond the call of duty.Twenty-six Guyanese were conferred with the Medal of Service in recognition for their dedicated service to the country and people in the fields of politics, business, culture, arts, medicine and the care of children among other fields.The Cacique’s Crown of Honour was presented to Ronald Austin, Robert Corbin, Justice BS Roy, Chris Fernandes, Maureen Messiah and Father Malcolm Rodrigues, among others. There were three posthumous awards bestowed since the persons would have died since the announcement of the awardees earlier this year.