President general of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU), Ancel Roget said yesterday he was "happy" that the union's first president, Adrian Cola Rienzi, was being honoured with the country's highest award, The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the country's highest National Award, was given this year to Rienzi (posthumous), former prime minister George Chambers (posthumous) and Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott.
A total of 76 awards were presented to citizens last night at a function at Queen's Hall in Port of Spain, hosted by President George Maxwell Richards.
"We are happy to know that Rienzi has been recognised for the contribution he has made to national development," Roget said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Rienzi was the leader of the OWTU from its inception in 1937 and remained in office for the next ten years.
"It was early labour leaders like (Tubal Uriah) Buzz (Butler) and Rienzi that laid the foundation for the Independence we gained in 1962," he said.
Roget said the country's first prime minister, Eric Williams, "stood on the shoulders of labour giants" in order to forge the country's Independence.
"Both played a significant role, but it was the early labour leaders that made the call for an independent Trinidad and Tobago, which Williams then formalised.
"Well before 1962, the labour movement paved the road for that freedom, and while we are happy that Rienzi is being recognised, we need to also honour those early labour leaders," he said.
Business owner Hannah Janoura is also being recognised for a second time, this time, with a Chaconia Gold for her contribution to the business field.
Janoura, in 2007, was awarded a Humming Bird Gold for her efforts in community service.
"When they called to tell me about this award, I screamed," she said yesterday. "I was so emotional; I never expected it and I am very excited," she said. I love my country; I am a true, true, true, true Trini," she said with a laugh.
Janoura said there was a 20-foot pole outside her home with a national flag in honour of Independence day and said this time, it is never coming down.
"That will stay there for everyone to see it. This is my home, this is my country, and I am even more happy to be considered on this 50th anniversary of our nation," she said.