Saturday, March 2, 2024

Remember to thank our servicemen and women


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On Sunday Barbados saluted its war dead with the annual Remembrance Day parade at the Cenotaph in Heroes Square, The City.

It was done with the usual pomp and dignity befitting the occasion.

Those  whom we have promised never to forget made supreme sacrifice  decades ago. Yet we remember their deeds.

So why don’t we honour and say thanks to those active members of the security forces today. They often do so much which goes unnoticed.

The members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence Force, the Barbados Fire Service ,The Barbados Prison Service and the Regional Security System with its headquarters  in Barbados are turue loyal sons and daughters all.

These security personnel often give yeoman service with little show of gratitude from us.

Yes, the argument will be made that they are paid to do their jobs and often it is the vocation of their choice. But the pay could never match the demands  and  will never replace appreciation.

Take the work done by our soldiers, coastguardsmen, police and fire officers in Dominica following the damaged inflicted by Hurricane Irma.

From mobilizing and delivery of supplies to working on the ground, rescuing people, securing the place and keeping the peace, they did it , for the honour, for their country and to help their fellow man.

The Dominicans certainly acknowledged them; the British , Canadian and Americans using Barbados as a staging post and working on the ground in that island have lauded our men and women for their tremendous efforts.

The public in Barbados routinely thanks the uniformed service members for the job they do. This may be particularly true of the policemen  and personnel from the fire service who in many ways have a different kind of daily interaction with the public.

Barbadians trust these men and women to always do what is right, to uphold the Constitution, to stand firmly by their oaths of allegiance which broadly mean they are here to serve, to protect and to defend this island and its people. The vast majority of those in uniforms live up to the trust.

So whether it is lawmen in hot pursuit of armed criminals, or the BDF lending assistance after a natural disaster and assisting with providing security services during the Crop Over  Festival,  or the Coast Guard protecting our shorelines under difficult circumstances against armed thugs ; we the citizens thank you.

People understand the challenges of the Fire Service when day or night they respond to help save the earthly possession of  someone; or to rescue someone trapped in a mangled  vehicle ; only to the firefighters show their raw emotion when all is lost in smoke or their inability to save someone in that wrecked vehicle.

 Even though  prison officers often remain in the background, their job is of greater significance today. It is no longer about meting out harsh punishment and exhibiting brute force to those who have offended, but about helping to rehabilitate men and women who will eventually return to society.

The police, the soldiers, the coastguard, the firefighters and the prison officers all form part of a services sector that must deliver every day to make Barbados a reliable and safe place  and through their efforts help to grow the economy in a stable environment. They all are committed to and do ensure this country is a better place.

Yet for all that they do our men and women in uniform can easily slip into the background and off the radar. The goodwill they do may be acknowledged in private but hardly celebrated in public.

As a country with a number of public holidays which really are primarily used for fun and frolic why not let us use a part of one of those days to say thanks to the men and women who serve, defend and protect. A time not only for marching  and parades, but true celebration and honouring them for the countless good deeds they have done; for showcasing of the varied talents; for thanking those who have transitioned whether into retirement or have passed on.

Let us find meaningful ways to expressing our gratitude to these men and women. Our troops of goodwill.

 Eric Smith is Editor-in-Chief of the Nation. He is a media veteran with vast experience in both print and broadcast journalism.



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