In a speech on the 20th of August, 1940, Winston Churchill said “never was so much owed by so many to so few”.
This speech was to highlight the contributions of British pilots during the Battle of Britain.
Several years after that speech, the same could be said for Caymanian seamen who left these shores to risk their lives to better their families and these beloved Islands. Today, in many countries around the world, people take time to pay tribute to those that came before and sacrificed themselves for the betterment of their country.
Whether it was a sacrifice for freedom, a sacrifice of resources or a sacrifice of life, it was still a sacrifice.
We in Cayman celebrate Remembrance Day each year to remember those who have gone above and beyond what could have been expected and the contributions as well as the sacrifices that they made over the years. But I really have to ask the question – do we really remember? Do we really remember what it was like when these Islands were indeed the place that time forgot? Do we remember that prior to going to sea that many transactions were done on the barter system? Do we really remember the sacrifices made by the many men who went to sea and were required to send their funds back home? Do we remember Mr. Daniel Ludwig, Mrs. Gwen Bush and Mr. Colin Panton and their efforts to ensure that Caymanian seamen found jobs on these ships? Do we remember that as a result of the contributions made by seamen and their sacrifices that our banking industry was born and by extension our financial industry? Do we remember to say “thank you” for those that laid the foundations for these beloved Islands to be the success that it is today?
Several decades ago, these questions would have been irrelevant as the contributions made by seamen were fresh in our psyche and a law was even passed to recognise their contributions.
Today, seamen are denied the benefits of those laws by individuals who have no memory or appreciation of the sacrifices that were made by seamen.
Today, seamen are denied their legal benefits because their wives now have jobs. The only question left to ask is why? God forbid something happened to their spouse or they get a divorce. Is this the thanks we are to expect from those that represent a grateful nation? Diane F. Halpern once wrote that “Hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. It distorts our memory for events that occurred at the time of the decision so that the actual consequence seems to have been a “foregone conclusion”.
God bless all.
Paul A. McLaughlin