Barbados celebrates its Independence Day on November 30th and this year we are celebrating our 39th anniversary as an independent nation. The highlight of Independence Day is the Independence Day military parade which starts at 8:00 AM.
If you want to see Barbados’ military tradition at its best, you should be sure to attend the Independence Day military parade. Although traditionally the Independence Day military parade is normally held at the Garrison Savannah in Hastings, in recent years it has been held at the Bridgetown Port instead. Dignitaries include the Governor General of Barbados, the Prime Minister of Barbados, members of the Cabinet of Barbados and members of the Diplomatic Corps. Of course, the event almost always has a great turnout as Barbadians young and old come dressed in their national colours of blue and yellow, in Barbados T-shirts and proudly waving Barbados flags. The parade is also brought live on CBC TV8.
Arrival of the Governor General
The military parade officially starts with the arrival of the Governor General of Barbados escorted by members of the mounted troop of the Royal Barbados Police Force. On the arrival of the Governor General the royal salute is played. In case you are wondering what that is, the royal salute is a shortened version of the national anthem and must be played when the Head of State appears at an official function. Since the titular Head of State of Barbados is the Queen of England, if the Queen were to appear at an official function in Barbados, she would receive the royal salute.
Throughout the proceedings the massed band plays a number of military pieces, as well as calypsos and national songs. At the rear of the parade ground are the flags of the different detachments on parade.
Inspection by the Governor General
When the Governor General has taken his position, the parade commander reports to His Excellency and invites His Excellency to inspect the parade. The Governor General is escorted to the ceremonial land rover by the Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force and the Commissioner of Police. As the ceremonial land rover makes its way around the parade ground, the massed band (consisting of members of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band and the Barbados Defence Force Band) play a number of musical renditions. You can identify the members of the Barbados Defence Force band by their immaculent scarlet red zouave uniform.
The March pass
After the inspection, the Governor General is escorted back to his position. The parade commander returns to his position on the parade and gives a series of commands leading to the march pass. The armed units march pass in slow time and then quick time. As they pass the Governor General the eyes’ right command is given. After they march pass in quick time, there is the march pass of the unarmed units in quick time. This year we were joined by the 33rd marine infantry unit of the French forces who joined in the parade.
After the march pass, the mounted troop of the Royal Barbados Police Force, accompanied by the music of the Cavalry Brigade, then pays compliments to the Governor General. The massed band takes position at the rear of the parade. The parade commander returns to his position on the parade ground and prepares for the advance in review order. This is where the parade advances 15 paces to the reviewing officer, who is the Governor General.
This year there was a figure marching presentation by the Barbados Cadet Corps Band, which is composed of cadets from several secondary schools, as well as the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polyclinic. Looking resplendent in their new blue and white ceremonial gear, the Barbados cadet band formed the shape of 39 (commemorating our 39th anniversary of independence) and the Broken Trident (one of our national symbols).
The Salute to the nation
One of the most significant parts of the ceremony is the salute to the nation. The audience is asked to stand and the Governor General and Prime Minister are escorted to the parade ground by the Chief of staff of the Barbados Defence Force and the Commissioner of Police. The gun salute to the nation is made as the national anthem is played. This is followed by a prayer. In keeping with tradition, a school child says the national pledge and the audience is to repeat after him or her. Three cheers for the nation are then done.
Exit of the Governor General
Note that whereas at the beginning of the service the Chief Justice arrives first, followed by the Prime Minister and then the Governor General, at the end they leave in reverse order. After the final salute, the Governor General leaves in his official car escorted by the mounted troop at the front and rear of the vehicle. The Prime Minister is then escorted to his official car MP 2 and goes to the Port authority building escorted by an outrider of the Royal Barbados Police Force where he will take the final salute as the parade marches pass. The Chief Justice of Barbados then makes his exit in his MP 4 car escorted by an outrider of the Royal Barbados Police Force.