SVG flag hoists officially in Philly

Nov. 19 was, clearly, a special day in the lives of all Vincentians, at home and in the Diaspora, particularly for nationals residing in Philadelphia.

After a seven-year struggle, the blue, green and gold colors of the Vincentian national flag are now officially on display in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

The city finally acquiesced to the wishes of some very adamant Vincentians by allowing the national flag to be hoisted officially on the popular Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Vincentian flag was raised, along with 19 other national flags from around the world, including two other Caribbean countries’ – Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Kitts and Nevis – at an official ceremony, downtown Philadelphia.

Twelve executive members of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP), as well as Deputy New York Consul General, Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas, and hundreds of Vincentians, were on hand to witness the historic event.

Other dignitaries included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia council woman Jannie Blackwell, and Vincentian-born Yeadon Borough council woman Deborah Robinson Howell.

“On 8/23/09, we had a Vincy Day in Philly at which 50,000 people were present, while they honored us. On 11/7/09 SVGOP honored me. On 10/31/10 COSAGO (the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc.) honored me. But nothing I have ever done, nothing I have ever seen, was as beautiful and wonderful [as the Vincy flag-raising],” said an elated James Cordice, the Clare Valley-born SVGOP president, who was in the vanguard in the unrelenting push for the official raising of the Vincy flag, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.

“It was the most mystical, hair-raising, humbling experience that I have ever experienced,” added the untiring, highly patriotic national.

“That Friday was the best Friday of my life!” he continued. “As a matter of fact, it was the best thing that I have done, the best charge I have ever led, the very best result I have ever garnered from any project.”

Arlette Dopwell-James, SVGOP vice president, said though it was a cold day, her heart was “hot.”

“I will never forget that proud day, especially watching and listening to 11-year-old Cristina Artis of SVGOP Youth Group perform her part of ‘This Land is My Land,’” she added.

“Oh, what a day!” Dopwell-James exclaimed. “Seeing all those Vincy flags waving in the crowd, I was happy, sad, overwhelmed, and yet humbled.”

The drive for the historic Vincntian flag-raising started in 2003, when Cordice, who was then SVGOP’s Education Committee chair, made the request in a letter to the Philadelphia City Council.

Cordice said the petition was rejected in each successive year, including the years after he became president in 2005.

Perhaps, tired of Cordice’s insistence, the City Council finally capitulated this year, resulting in the historic feat.

“I believe that success is when you can give to your country and country men; when you invest in this human race; when you pull up all stops and get the job done, irrespective of negative elements and politicking that surround us each day; when our parents and seniors can say, ‘great job;’ when the National flag of SVG can be hoisted in a land that was not promised to me,” Cordice said.

“I know that 11/19/2010 is the best day of my life. This is how one should love – not with our mouths but with our everything,” he added.