Rain adds to pensive memorial to veterans

Fallen veterans honored with wreath laying

Memorial wreaths were laid at the Elmslie Memorial Church cenotaph for fallen veterans on Sunday. - Photo: Stephen Clarke

Heavy rain accented the sombre music played by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service band at a Remembrance Day event held Sunday at Elmslie Memorial Church in George Town, forcing organisers to move the last part of the traditional wreath-laying ceremony inside the church.

A crowd of several hundred, including the uniformed brigades from the police service, Cadet Corps and other organisations, marked the 100th anniversary of the annual memorial that honours those who lost their lives in military conflicts, including those from the Cayman Islands. A two-minute silence was observed for the fallen.

Andrew McLaughlin, head of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association, said he was pleased to see the crowd.

“So many people forget the sacrifices that were made to bring us to where we are,” said McLaughlin, who served 22 years in the US Marine Corps, retiring as a master sergeant. “It’s so nice to have people remember.”

 

Members of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association show their respect on Remembrance Sunday. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Dignitaries, including Governor Martyn Roper, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly McKeeva Bush, were on hand to provide brief readings and participate in the laying of the wreaths.

This was the first year in which the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories laid wreaths at the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London.

Roper said it was fitting to include Cayman in those honours.

“In January 1916, around 300 Caymanians signed up voluntarily to the British Merchant Navy,” Roper said in a statement. “The Cayman Islands Government will now join the rest of the UK family to commemorate the sacrifices made by those Caymanian recruits as they defended our freedom, way of life and democracy. We must never take their sacrifices for granted.  Being included in such an important ceremonial event is an honour.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin bows his head after laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on Sunday. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

A ceremony also took place in Cayman Brac. District Commissioner Ernie Scott gave an address followed by Major George Walton who read the poem ‘Why Do You Still March Old Man?’ Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts called out the names on the Cenotaph of the Caymanian men who lost their lives during World War I and World War II.

Veteran Larry Rotchell, who retired as a lieutenant colonel after 37 years in the British Army, said his and his Caymanian wife’s families have both experienced loss during wartime.

“It’s a sense of duty to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Rotchell said of Sunday’s ceremony. “Just to pay respect to them.”

Governor Martyn Roper lays a wreath in memory of the war dead at the Cenotaph. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Another veteran, Graham Walker, said it is especially important to mark the occasion as fewer and fewer veterans from World War II remain.

He looked skyward.

“The parade is up there,” he said.