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JDF stages full dress rehearsal to ensure smooth flow at Seaga funeral

Saturday, June 22, 2019

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“STAND still but not stiff,” was the often-repeated instruction from a senior member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to the scores of men and women under his command, as they lined North Street in central Kingston in the early hours of yesterday morning.

They were among hundreds of members of the uniformed forces taking part in the final dress rehearsal for tomorrow's State funeral for former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.

With typical military precision, the rehearsal started at the scheduled 4.30 am at Holy Trinity Cathedral, with the flag-draped coffin containing the body of the former prime minister in the front.

JDF pall-bearers then moved the coffin onto the JDF gun carriage which then made its way slowly along North Street to Duke Street and into National Heroes' Park, where Seaga's remains will be interred.

“Wriggle your toes in your shoes and think about being on the beach, a big plate of chicken or any other favourite food,” shouted a JDF officer to those slated to man the area on Duke Street, close to the entrance of the park.

With Seaga's funeral slated to begin at noon, the members of the uniformed groups will spend hours in the afternoon exposed to the elements, making it imperative that the obey the instruction to, “Stand still but not stiff”.

The State funeral for the former prime minister will include several ceremonial rites, including a 19-gun salute at National Heroes' Park. The rounds will be fired at approximately one-minute intervals.

The Office of the Prime Minister has advised that national honours, service decorations or medals should be worn by the recipients on the day.

Sedate colours and modest attire are suggested. It is traditional that men wearing neckties should select black, dark blue or other dark-coloured conservative ties with subdued patterns. Women should dress in corresponding conservative colours.

Uniformed members of organisations such as St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, and cadets, should wear black crepe or cloth armbands on their left sleeves.

As the coffin leaves the cathedral the JDF Guard of Honour will give a general salute, during which persons present should stand silently to attention.

During the walk to the National Heroes' Park, when the gun carriage draws abreast of spectators along the route, those in plain clothes should stand silently at attention and remove headdress, if worn. Uniformed personnel should stand at attention.

All spectators should remain on the outer boundaries of the uniformed street liners and follow the instructions given by the marshals throughout the procession.

Several roads, including sections of North Street, East Street, South Camp Road and Marescaux, will be closed for periods tomorrow to facilitate the State funeral.

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