President David Granger on Sunday announced the establishment of a National Veterans Commission, a Veterans’ Trust, a Veterans’ Department (located at Base Camp Ayanganna) and a veterans’ act that will ensure veterans’ benefits are secured by law.
This announcement was made at the Remembrance Day ceremony, which was held at Guyana Veterans Legions (GVL), Coghlan House to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1933-1945).
Representatives of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities offered prayers, with each expressing gratitude to, and acknowledging the sacrifice made by, those who gave their lives in order for those left behind to live at peace.
The GVL was established in April 2014 as a result of the amalgamation of the Guyana Legion and the X-GDF Association of Guyana.
In opening remarks at the Remembrance Celebration, GVL President, Retired Lieutenant Colonel George Gomes noted that Guyana must never forget the fallen heroes.
“It is our responsibility to maintain the tradition and ensure that future generations are taught of the significance and importance of these annual remembrance observances and to inculcate in them the need to maintain the tradition,” he told the gathering.
In acknowledging the surviving members of the British Guiana Battalion of the South Caribbean Forces, Gomes stated that the bravery of those men must be remembered throughout history.
“You are the gentlemen who stepped forward and were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. Your stories of service and sacrifice form a vital part of our early military history.”
During his remarks, Gomes highlighted that the surviving nine World War II veterans were in attendance. He commended Belvedere Jerrold Stewart on celebrating his 98th birthday Friday last and Private Benjamin Durant on his 101st birthday on Friday.
Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee, who gave brief remarks, reminded that the deaths of the brave men and women who courageously served and sacrificed their lives so that persons could live in peace and safety must be remembered.
“Most of us will never know the sacrifice and personal toll it takes to be the family that loses a loved one to an exercise of moral courage; we must recognise the important sacrifice of these families,” the High Commissioner said.
The key message about the continuous relevance of remembrance during the yearly celebration is vital. This is according to British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregg Quinn.
“We do not honour war or death, but rather we commemorate those who have given their lives in service of our respective countries. Across the globe that number sadly continues to grow,” he said.
The world, according to Quinn, is becoming a dangerous place; however, servicemen and women continue to protect citizens of their respective countries in difficult and dangerous situations, so it is important we honour their memory.
Prayers were concluded with the lusty singing of the hymn, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended” and the National Anthem.
Remembrance Day is observed on the Sunday closest to November 11. In Guyana, the day is marked by parades in Georgetown; New Amsterdam, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Vreed-en-Hoop, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice); Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). The main commemoration – a wreath-laying ceremony and parade – is held every year at the Cenotaph, Main Street, Georgetown.
The official day of commemoration, November 11 marks the signing of the Armistice at the end of World War I.