Today marks the centenary of Remembrance Day, first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
His Imperial Majesty King George V on November 7, 1919, issued a proclamation calling for a two-minute silence, where “all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.
Trinidad and Tobago lost 210 sons of the soil in the First World War, and under the banner of the Trinidad and Tobago Federation of Veterans Associations, we commemorate Armistice Day on 11hr/11day/11month, at the Chaguaramas Military Museum. The public is invited.
A year later, by a Royal Grant, King George V gifted a property at 20 Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain, and on May 3, 1921, we received a deed for the property.
Ninety-nine years hence, we find ourselves fighting an unnecessary battle with the present Government to retain that property for the sustained development of the health and welfare of those who have served and those who are still in service.
Our heroes (just to name a few) killed in action in WWI: Francis Laverick, Charles Bentley, Fernand De Verteuil, Derrick Pile, Eugene Agostini. Killed in action WWII: John and William Alcazar, Lionel Bynoe, Mervyn and Thomas Cipriani, Humphrey Gilkes, James Hyde.
Our heroes (just to name a few)who survived action WWI/II: AVM McClaude Vincent, Capt Cipriani, Sqdn Ldr Ulric Cross, Flt Lt Esmond Farfan, Sydney Knox, Lennox McKay. John Henderson, Frank Dowdy.
Our heroes must be turning in their graves, strewn across the face of the earth.
It is indeed a sad day, when the respect that our military men and women, so rightly deserve, is highly lacking and instead nothing but unbridled contempt is displayed by the powers that be.
In this 100th year of Remembrance we face nothing but gross disrespect.
Once again, our representative of the RAFA will lay a wreath second to last after the diplomats of Germany, Japan. This protocol never ceases to amaze those of us who fought in the wars as British Commonwealth citizens.
Regrettably, this year we will not be able to gather at RAFA to commemorate, since the car park has been blocked off by UDeCOTT, who has laid claim to the property.
I therefore urge you, at your several stations, to indulge in a libation as a toast to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure our freedom.
Dennis T Olivier
Chairman, Royal Air Forces Association
Trinidad and Tobago