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Christmas Message by His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Arthur A Foulkes, GCMG

Following is the text of the Christmas 2011 Message by His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Arthur A. Foulkes, GCMG

My Fellow Bahamians:

Another year is drawing to a close and once again we celebrate the profound gift that is Christmas, and also look forward to welcoming in a New Year.

Like every other year of our lives, both personal and national, the outgoing year has had it challenges.  But I am proud to say that once again the Bahamian people have met those challenges and we can with confidence invite the world to mark the manner of our bearing.

Next year is also going to be a time of challenges, and of great excitement too.  As you know, the nations of the world, and especially the developed countries, are still struggling with fallout from the financial and economic crises of the last few years. 

We can only hope and pray that the efforts being made on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world will begin to bear fruit in the New Year.  Already there are hopeful signs.

Lending to the excitement in the New Year will be the celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

During the 60 years of her reign Her Majesty has faced many challenges both personal and national, and she has done so with great dignity and with an unflinching devotion to duty. 

She has gained the admiration not only of the people of Britain and the Realms but of many others around the world.

I am sure the Bahamian people will join enthusiastically in our celebrations of Her Majesty's Jubilee which will include a visit to the Bahamas by His Royal Highness Prince Harry.

Next year is also an Olympic year with the Games being held in London in the summer.  We Bahamians are extremely -- and justly -- proud of our performance in sports. 

Ever since Tommy Robinson and Sir Durward Knowles set the pace back in the late Fifties and early Sixties, we have gone from strength to strength, and in international sports arenas we have made our presence felt way beyond our small size.

Our athletes have not only done well in medal counts, but have conducted themselves with discipline and dignity wherever they have gone.  I still remember with pride the dignified manner in which Tonique Williams Darling carried herself in her moment of victory.  I attach great importance to that and I am sure you do also. 

We are proud of our athletes and we thank them for their example and for their contribution to nation-building.  I have no doubt that we will participate with good sportsmanship in next year's Olympics and that our athletes will once again do us proud.

Also next year, Bahamians will go to the polls to elect from constituencies all across the archipelago fellow-citizens who will represent them in our parliament, our ancient parliament that has evolved into the premier institution of our modern parliamentary democracy.

We will do this in our usual exuberant and celebratory Bahamian way.  I expect that, as in previous years, the contest will be vigorous.  I am also confident that it will be peaceful and orderly, and that at the end of the day we will be able once again to invite the world to mark the manner of our bearing.

My Fellow Bahamians:

The giving of gifts at Christmas time is symbolic of the gift of love represented by the Christ child in the manger.  While we give gifts to those who are close to us, let us also remember to give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves and our loved ones: the aged, the sick and the lonely, and the orphans who are perhaps nearest to the heart of God.

Let us remember also to thank those who serve us, and I do so now for all of us:

Those who serve in our political institutions without whom we could not sustain our civilization; our hard-working civil servants who keep the business, agencies and institutions of government functioning; our law-enforcement officers who constantly face dangers to protect us, our property and our heritage; those who give of their service voluntarily in order to improve our society, especially those who work with young people; our cultural and artistic community who work tirelessly to bring enjoyment and beauty into our lives; we thank them all.

And may I repeat that respect, civility and service to others never go out of season.  They are the perennial demands of good citizenship and personal discipline.

Joan and I join with our entire family in wishing each and every one of you a very merry Christmas and an exciting and rewarding New Year.

May God bless us all, and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.