by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- 25 October marks Thanksgiving in recognition of the US Invasion
- Survivors call for 19 October to be officially recognised
Tomorrow, Thursday, 25 October marks Thanksgiving in recognition of the US Invasion following the demise of the Grenada Revolution 35 years ago. Two survivors of the slaughter on 19 October 1983 at Fort Rupert (now, Fort George) are yet to find solace as their scars daily remind them of the horror that took place.
Ashton Goddard was only 14 years old when he ventured up onto the fort after the freeing of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop who had been placed under house arrest by a rogue faction of the People’s Revolutionary Army, under the directive of Bishops’ right-hand men Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin.
It was there young Goddard fled for his life after receiving a gunshot wound to the jaw. Armoured vehicles had opened fire on the masses of people.
Goodard who is now 52 years old, said he has waited 35 years before he could muster up the courage to return to the fort after his traumatic experience. He recounted having seen and heard the screams of running people, and the buzzing sound of bullets as the onslaught on that dreadful day claimed the lives of many innocent civilians, as well as Bishop and several of his cabinet colleagues.
“While we were there, this guy, Vincent Noel was talking at the time when the armoured cars came up and started firing on the people. Early I got hit right in my jaw, and I was bleeding, so I was on the ground and watching people getting killed, and the armoured cars opening heavy fire on the building. RPG 7 rockets were fired.”
Goddard explained why he took so long to confront his past. “This is very painful, and we all have to take time before we can get that strength to come back here and really pay our respects to our dear leader Maurice Bishop, who would have taken Grenada forward. But because of the open CIA in our country, [it] caused a split between the party that resulted in this tragic event.”
Survivor Alexis Simon lost his left arm on that day. Since then, every year Simon has made it his duty to return to Fort George to commemorate and honour those who lost their lives at the demise of the Grenadian revolution. But this year is slightly different a Simon was fortunate to have in his possession a piece of history, a newspaper which featured the events of 19 October 1983 right up to the trial and conviction of the ‘Grenada 17’. Within the article, Simon showed NOW Grenada a picture of himself at the hospital taken after his injury.
Simon said the moments that follow directly after his injury have not been easy. However, he refuses to allow his disability to prevent him from confronting his past. “I came across a newspaper called the Nation newspaper in Barbados, and this newspaper has the Maurice Bishop murder trial from start to end and on that newspaper, a picture of me lying on a hospital bed 35 years ago was taken out. I must say when I came across that picture of me, I was so shocked; I couldn’t believe because this brought back so many memories that will linger for the rest of my life.”
The 19 October survivor continues the call for victims who survived to be compensated.
“For the past 35 years, I myself being a victim of October 19th up until now none of the victims who survived have been recognised… because after all, we are the living history and heroes of what actually happened on that dreadful day, and so it is very unfortunate that year after year I come here and participate in the ceremony and no recognition has never been given, particularly those who are still alive.”
25 October marks a thanksgiving holiday recognising the US Invasion of Grenada, and since this day has been given its proper recognition, the Maurice Bishop, and October 19th, 1983 Martyrs Foundation is calling for 19 October to be given its proper recognition.