Columns

Flashback: Flag time

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, August 11, 2017

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Holiday time over now. It's get-back-to-work season. We have just survived another national outburst of “time to enjoy wi-self”.

Over the weekend I had flashbacks of 1962 when we were getting set to take down the red, white and blue and bring out the black, green and gold. Whatta evening! To tell you my business, my school days were over and by then and I had moved into the newsroom. Not that I was all over the place, but by then I was covering one of the most exciting assignments of all time — Independence!

There were all kinds of objectives to be fulfilled. A new Jamaica was being born and she was reported on by a bright, young journalist. Wow! One of the biggest news stories found a place in the excitement. Imagine the flag for the new independent nation. Some were sure that nothing could compare to the Union Jack, and it was decided that it should be kept after all, but change had to come. We had been British for so long. Many had been willing to see a new flag fly, however.

Strange how the argument about our ties to Britain still goes on even now, despite how they beat we up in the race.

The chosen flag was sent on a 'round-the-island' run. As I remember it, a selection of youngsters was identified to take part from the Boys' Brigade and elsewhere. Memory seems to be of mainly young men. If young women were involved I cannot say for sure.

The participants went from one parish to the other handing over the flag to cross the country until it would make its way back into the National Stadium for the festivities. I was in the stands along with other members of the media — in fact, the press, as was popularly known then. All on hand were long-established reporters, well known in the trade. Most stood near the back watching.

When the sound of the music of the uniformed groups was heard, everybody came to “A-ten-shun!” The runners came in with our flag to be handed over to the prime minister and a Jamaica Defence Force officer. The lights were turned off, the Union Jack was lowered, and soon the black, green and gold was atop the flag pole.

There was much excitement. Hoorays and more hoorays were heard in the damp air. Some reports say that the new flag fluttered in the air. They might have meant well, but it had rained earlier in the day and the flag was wet. Damp fabric does not have the same exuberant spirit. The damp flag didn't dampen the excitement. The black, green and gold seemed ready to “rock and roll” in front of a crowd of Jamaicans and specially invited international guests.

That's my memory of that night of Independence on August 6, 1962. If there is anyone who remembers differently, and wants to stir up the argument, tell it nuh. Remind me to tell you the story of an argument involving a certain US President and the Jamaican media giant. Yes, there really was a time when there was a certain Jamaican media magnate for whom no dog barked!

Today, the black, green and gold soars overhead, still with ambitions of a new nation with strength and skill and a voice heard around the world. The voice of a Jamaica which speaks far and wide and receives the goodwill and best wishes from the world which salutes them to this very day. Jamaica, land we love (if you can sing).

Bangarang averted

At the moment there is an unfortunate debacle involving an accusation of moral and ethical matters regarding school administrations and the charging of school “fees”. Some days ago, the Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid levelled charges against schools which it had been reported were refusing to register students who were unable or unwilling to pay fees. Named in the list of offenders was my alma mater, St Andrew High School for Girls.

The minister, at a press conference, used words like “corruption” and “extortion” in regard to the school requesting parents pay for registration packages and offer a financial contribution to the schools' programmes and activities.

The chairperson of the school board, Marjorie E Hyatt, and Principal Sharon Reid refuted the claim. Subsequently, discussions were held between the school's administrators and the minister resulting in a formal apology issued to the school. It seems that the problematic issues are being resolved.

Hearing the name of my school unfairly tossed around brought back more memories of my time at St Andrew High School. There was no disruption, but a quiet afternoon when I was welcomed on the front steps as one of the girls who had won one of the Kingston elementary scholarships. My parents had seen to it that the word “education” had a meaning and place in my young life. St Andrew was my school and my place to be properly trained for adulthood, and now hearing words which question my school's integrity have been hard to bear. I know that then, as now, St Andrew High plays its part in helping this nation develop and grow, just as my generation was taught.

Hail, Fr Louis Grenier

There are some individuals who make a mark in life. Today, let's remember and never forget a really good man. None was a better one than Father Louis Grenier; as fine a priestly priest as we will ever meet. He came to Jamaica from the USA many years ago to minister to our people.

A committed man of God, full-a jokes, and always busy working for the church. You should've seen him having a good time at Festival events. Yes, Jesus loved him, and so many of our people saw the best in him. He was a special shepherd for all who got to know him. He was a real saint.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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