Draft Recommendations For Future Commemorations Of October 1983

Wreath laid by Government to memory of the 13 Grenadian Soldiers who died on 25 October 1983

The Conference of Churches in Grenada (CCG) has, for some years been concerned that our acknowledgement of the week of events of October 1983, has not furthered the healing of the nation.

After the Thanksgiving Service in October 2015 at the Beaulieu RC Church, the Conference expressed its concern to the Committee of Social Partners. The Committee of the whole created a subcommittee and charged it with the responsibility of recommending how best we might be able to commemorate these events in a way that, over time, would lend itself a more united country.

The Committee of Social Partners has acknowledged draft recommendations from the sub-committee, for the future annual commemoration of the events of the week 19 to 25 October, and has given its blessings for dissemination for discussion and consultations. The CCG has offered to lead in this process through parish consultations and possibly a national consultation. The plan now is to disseminate the recommendations to the public and different interest groups (the families of those who died on the 19th, the Martyrs Foundation, the US embassy, the ex-soldiers) and receive comments.

 

Draft Recommendations from the sub-Committee to the Committee of Social Partners

  1. The week of Remembrance and Thanksgiving will run from 19 to 25 October (7 days).
  2. The Governor-General will be asked to deliver a message to the nation at the commencement of the week.
  3. The public holiday will no longer be on 25 October as a fixed day, but on the Monday between and including the 19th and the 25th, ie the following dates will be the holiday:
  • 2017 – Monday 23rd
  • 2018 – Monday 22nd
  • 2019 – Monday 21st
  • 2020 – Monday 19th
  • 2021 – Monday 25th
  • 2022 – Monday 24th
  • 2023 – Monday 23rd
  • 2024 – Monday 21st
  • 2025 – Monday 20th

The benefits of having the holiday as recommended above are:

  1. In a 5-year period, we will have a holiday on both the 19th and the 25th;
  2. Given concerns about productivity in Grenada, we avoid having 2 holidays in that week and still be able to observe both Thanksgiving and Remembrance;
  3. Additionally, the good thing about a week of activities with a holiday on the Monday is that there is a long weekend, but more importantly, the Sunday before the Monday can be a time in all of our churches when the theme of “National Unity and Forgiveness” can be emphasised.

The following are recommended activities for the week:

  • During the week of the 19th to 25th, a vigil should be held (route and format not discussed) and the dead from all sides (Grenadian, Cuban, and American) should be remembered by calling out their names;
  • The names of the Grenadian combatants killed during the conflict should be added to those at the monument in the Botanical Gardens and remembered on Remembrance Day, after all, they are war dead, and they believed they were fighting for their country;
  • Each day of the week, activities of significance will occur, highlights being the 19th and the 25th;
  • Bells are to toll each day of the week at midday with a moment of silence for reflection.
  • Radio stations will be requested to play sombre music on the 19th and songs of thanksgiving on the 25th;
  • Media houses and civil society organisations will be encouraged to sponsor talks, panel discussions on forgiveness and national unity leading up to and during the period 19th to 25th.
  • Schools, on the 19th, (if not the day of the public holiday), should have in-school debates, panel discussions and book readings about the period.

The following suggestion was not made by the committee but came from a member of the Conference of Churches: A project to create a “sanctuary” at Fort George at the place where the former members of the Grenada Government were executed, to require or include:

  1. Existing masonry covering the bullet holes removed,
  2. Monuments erected on the spots where they last stood,
  3. A wooden or metal fence erected to enclose the area.

Members of the subcommittee will be willing to discuss these issues as time and opportunity permit. Committee members: Rev. Dr R Osbert James, Fr Sean Doggett, Gloria Payne-Banfield and Donnette Narayan (Teacher of Social Science at MacDonald College).

The recommendations coming from these as well as comments/recommendations sent in by email/letters would inform the final recommendations sent to Cabinet. Persons can send comments or recommendations to the Conference of Churches via email: ccg@spiceisle.com.

 

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