V.C. Bird Day is celebrated on December 9 each year. This date marks the birthday of Vere Cornwall (V.C.) Bird, a national hero in Antigua and Barbuda. He served as the Caribbean nation’s first Prime Minister. He is known for his revolutionary work as a firebrand trade unionist, championing the rights of laborers and farmers and leading the fight for independence from the U.K. Bird was declared a national hero in 1994 when his term as Prime Minister came to an end. Antiguans reflect on his achievements today, paying their respects to his noble sacrifices.
History of V.C. Bird Day
Vere Cornwall Bird was born on December 9, 1910, in the town of St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. Bird’s family was one of humble means, residing in a low-income neighborhood. Growing up, he was exposed to his fellow citizens’ struggles and indignities, inspiring him to pursue a career as an activist and politician. In 1939 he became an executive member of the Antigua Trades and Labor Union (A.T.L.U.), and by 1943, he was President of the union. Bird led the fight for increased wages and improved working conditions, steering the A.T.L.U. into electoral politics for the first time in 1946. Following the introduction of universal adult suffrage and the ministerial system to Antigua and Barbuda in the 1950s, Bird was granted the portfolio of trade and production, rising to the rank of Chief Minister in 1960.
Bird was relegated to political exile in 1971, following the loss of the government to the newly formed Progressive Labor Movement party (P.L.M.) Still, he returned in 1976 with a bang, regaining the government and maintaining control until 1980, when he won the election on the campaign pledge of securing independence for Antigua and Barbuda. A year later, the Caribbean nation attained independence from the British, and Bird became the first Prime Minister. He remained a prevalent figure throughout his term, leading his party to another election victory in 1984, winning all the Antiguan seats in the legislature.
Bird exited politics in 1994, having paved the way for his son Lester to inherit his office. The Bird family, labeled a dynasty by some, continued to dominate the political arena in Antigua long after their patriarch’s death in 1999. Today, Antiguans remember V.C. Bird as a hero and a great statesman.
V.C. Bird Day timeline
Bird is born in St. John’s.
Bird becomes the President of the A.T.L.U.
Bird becomes Antigua and Barbuda’s first Prime Minister after gaining independence from the British.
Bird receives the Knight of the Order of the National Hero (K.N.H.).
V.C. Bird Day FAQs
When was the V.C. Bird International Airport constructed?
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation built Bird International Airport using funding provided by the Chinese government. On August 20, 2015, it was formally inaugurated.
Is Antigua rich or poor?
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous nations, thanks to its tourism industry and offshore financial services.
What is Antigua known for?
When it comes down to it, the factors that make Antigua so special include its stunning white sand beaches, sailing, the Nelson’s Dockyard from the 18th century, its delectable cuisine, the largest breeding colony of frigate birds in the Caribbean, and much more.
How to Observe V.C. Bird Day
Study Bird’s policies
Take a look at some of Bird’s policies that changed the lives of Antiguans. His time as a trade unionist is a great place to start.
Read about Antigua and Barbuda
To appreciate what Bird did for his people, one must first understand what the country was like before he rose to power. Read about Antigua and Barbuda’s history.
Make a flower wreath
The wreath-laying ceremony is one of the most important events of V.C. Bird Day. You may not be there to do it in person, but you can still make your own flower wreath as a symbolic gesture to Bird and his noble contributions.
5 Interesting Facts About V.C. Bird
Blood and fire
Bird served in the Salvation Army for two years.
A towering figure
Bird stood at an impressive seven feet tall.
He was not an intellectual
Unlike his political peers, who were distinguished lawyers and scholars, Bird had little formal education except for primary schooling.
He revolutionized the sugar industry
Though Bird led sweeping reforms in Antigua and Barbuda’s political scene, it was his contributions to the sugar industry that ordinary citizens remember him for the most.
Some called him a dictator
Despite all his achievements, some labeled Bird a dictator, comparing him to Francois Duvalier of Haiti.
Why V.C. Bird Day is Important
He abolished child labor
One of Bird’s most significant achievements was abolishing child labor. It’s one of many harmful practices he stopped during his tenure in the Trade and Labor Union.
He improved working conditions
Bird’s concern for workers' rights led to constitutional reform processes that significantly improved working conditions for Antiguan laborers, particularly in the cane fields. He also promoted the interests of small farmers, streamlining their interests with laborers.
He led his people to freedom
Bird liberated the people of Antigua and Barbuda from the shackles of colonialism. Through his decades-long crusade, he secured the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, giving them the foundation to build a prosperous country and society.
V.C. Bird Day dates