Ex-services League: Teach more about Memorial Day in schools

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Port of Spain mayor Chinua Alleyne lays a wreath at the Cenotaph at Memorial Park, Frederick Street, Port of Spain, during the National Day of Remembrance Parade on Sunday. – Ayanna Kinsale

THE Trinidad and Tobago Legion of Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League wants Memorial Day to be more widely and regularly taught at schools across the country.

The call was made by retired warrant officer of the TT Defence Force Hilton George Clarke. He was speaking to the media after the wreath-laying ceremony for this year’s celebrations at Memorial Park, Port of Spain, on Sunday morning.

President Christine Kangaloo, the Prime Minister, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds were among several public officials who laid wreaths at the cenotaph.

Diplomats, mayors and members of the protective services – including Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher – also laid wreaths.

Members of the protective services paraded at the park as spectators lined up along pavements to observe. However, the public turnout this year was lower than previous years.

Internationally called Memorial Day, and locally called National Day of Remembrance, those who served and/or died while doing so during World Wars I and II are honoured annually on November 11. TT’s parade is usually held soon after.

Clarke, who was representing the league’s president Colonel Lyle Alexander, said it was “very significant (and) important,” especially to retired soldiers and those who were still in training.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, second from right, and his wife, Sharon Rowley, right, smile with members of the The Girl Guides Association of Trinidad and Tobago during the National Day of Remembrance Parade at Memorial Park, Frederick Street, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Ayanna Kinsale

He said he did not believe enough was being done to educate younger generations about the day and called for it to be taught in all schools “so they would understand what (it) is all about.

“I remember as a younger fella in school, all these poppies used to be (distributed to us) which is a nice, significant thing. Now, you don’t see all the children wearing it.”

It is common for artificial poppies to be worn/pinned on to clothing on Memorial Day as it is a symbol of fallen soldiers from the wars.

Clarke recalled it seeming like “you must wear one” when he was a child.

“(Students from) all schools should be wearing a poppy during the week, up to this day.”

He said children can learn a lot about discipline if this is more widely taught, as “(when) you get the history of the military, you will understand how they had to fight to protect their nation.”

And nowadays, he added, “I think we need a lot of discipline.”

He added that parents were “fully responsible” for ensuring their children were disciplined.

He urged young people to become interested in joining the protective services.

He remains filled with pride having served his country.

Meanwhile, there were also celebrations at James Park in Scarborough, Tobago.

Deputy chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Dr Faith BYisrael was among officials who laid wreaths there.

Celebrations were also held in Fyzabad.