‘The young must learn from the old,’ were the words of local war veterans, upon presenting the first poppy commemorating this year’s Remembrance Day observance to Governor Jack Stuart.
The traditional poppy presentation to the Governor was performed recently by young Robert Dale Terc, the nine-year-old grandson of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association President Capt. Dale Banks.
Mr. Banks also was in attendance along with VA Executive Committee member Mr. Carley Ebanks.
Noting that ‘this is an important aspect of Cayman’s history,’ the Governor noted an apparent lack of interaction between youth and elderly in the Cayman Islands. He encouraged schoolchildren to spend time with older citizens of the country for Remembrance Day, and as a general activity.
There are some 80 resident veterans from various countries in Cayman.
The new poppy design includes a pin in each poppy, and the material is a soft felt, compared to the paper-and-plastic version traditionally used.
However, the new version maintains the same deep-red colour as the original design.
The Royal Canadian Veterans Association donated 10,000 of the poppies to the Cayman Islands association, as it has done in the past.
During the presentation, Mr. Jack and the veterans discussed the topic of war and remembrance, as well as the possibility of recording more oral histories from the remaining veterans, for the benefit of current and future generations.
‘We’ve already got a lot of our history relating to our experiences and contributions to global wars,’ Mr. Banks said.
He and Mr. Ebanks reminisced that during the 1940s, when World War II raged, Trinidad was the only place in the British Empire that had oil reserves. Therefore, guarding this vital location in the southern Caribbean was of vital importance to the war effort, as it allowed England to maintain the greatest navy in the world.
Thousands of men from the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands, were enlisted to these regional duties.
These oil reserves were necessary to fuel ships for the Royal Navy and Allied forces, in addition to fuelling aircraft, tanks and other war machinery. As a result of this importance, convoys of British, American and Allied ships that were refuelling in Trinidad were regularly chased and destroyed by German U-boat submarines.
The total death toll during WWII is estimated at some 62 million people, being 25 million military people and 37 million civilian lives – many of which were caused by genocide and other crimes against humanity, especially in the European theatre.
Allied countries around the globe observe Remembrance Day during a similar annual ceremony, with two minutes of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the armistice became effective.