Jamaica National Symbols

The British Honours were replaced by a system of national honours and awards in 1968. The third Monday in October is observed as National Heroes Day.

The system of Honours and Awards consists of five Orders as well as the Medal of Honour and the Badge of Honour. The Orders are as follows:

  • The Order of National Hero
  • The Order of the Nation
  • The Order of Merit
  • The Order of Jamaica
  • The Order of Distinction (Commander and Officer ranks)

In 1968, the Select Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, under the Chairmanship of the then Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer, prepared and finalised the criteria for all the above awards with the exception of the Order of the Nation, which was created in 1973 for Governors-General.


The Order of National Hero

(“Rt. Excellent”)

The Order of National Hero is awarded for services of the most distinguished nature rendered by Jamaican citizens to Jamaica. This honour is awarded either on the retirement of the recipient from active public life or posthumously.

An Advisory Committee is appointed to make investigations to determine whether the person receiving the National Honour award is actually deceased or living. The Committee reports to the Prime Minister who in due course advises the Governor-General. The Advisory Committee is made up of members from both Houses of Parliament.

In 1969, the above-mentioned Act of Parliament declared Paul Bogle, George William Gordon and Marcus Garvey to be National Heroes. Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley were later chosen by the Advisory Committee.

A gold and white enamelled star of fourteen points, the centre of which is a black enamelled medallion containing the full achievement of the Coat of Arms of Jamaica in gold relief, encircled by the Motto of the Order: “He built a city which hath foundations”. The star is suspended from a neck ribbon in the national colours, black, yellow and green encircled by a gold and green enamelled laurel wreath.

It is recommended by the Select Committees of Parliament that each National Hero should have a suitable monument or tomb in the National Heroes Park and each of these monuments should have a suitable motif which reflects the leading characteristics of the Hero. This motif will be featured either in a miniature or in a plaque or shield to be hung in some national place, shrine or museum, like the Institute of Jamaica. The plaque or shield is to be the property of the nation and not a family heirloom. There will however be a miniature or other smaller commemorative plaque, shield or medal which will be the property of the Hero’s family.


The Order of the Nation

(“The Most Honourable”)

This order is to be conferred upon persons appointed to the Office of Governor-General.

The design of the insignia of this Order is a silver twelve pointed breast star having between each point a gold pineapple and in the centre a circular gold badge containing the Arms of Jamaica in gold on red enamel surrounded by the motto of the Order “One Nation under one God” in gold letters on green enamel. It is worn with a three and one eight inch scarlet shoulder sash with a vertical green band on each side