Mr Arnold 'Scree' Bertram, respected historian and former minister of culture, has said he did not make a call for the Sangster International Airport to be renamed after the late former People's National Party (PNP) Minister Allan George St Claver Coombs, as reported in this newspaper on Monday.
But Mr Bertram might just be splitting hairs. He admits, in a letter to the editor that, while he did not make such a call in his prepared address as he delivered the inaugural Allan George St Claver Coombs lecture, he did support the sentiments of members of his audience who moved a resolution calling for the renaming of the airport.
Mr Bertram said that, in response to a reporter's query as he was making his way out of the function, "I pointed out that I supported the sentiment expressed by the audience as there was a basis for it, since Coombs, in his tenure as the minister of communications and works, was not a bystander in the development of both the Montego Bay International Airport and in the starting up of Negril..."
Mr Bertram might as well have called for the renaming of the airport in his speech!
We have been aware that Father Coombs, as he is affectionately called, has never been sufficiently recognised for his contribution to the political, social and economic development of St James which he represented and western Jamaica in general.
For that matter, we supported the re-interment of his remains from the pauper's grave in the poorly kept May Pen Cemetery, off the Spanish Town Road, Kingston, to the more pleasant and well-manicured Oaklawn Memorial Gardens on the outskirts of Mandeville, Manchester.
Yet, for us, finding more adequate and meaningful ways of honouring the storied minister of communications and works is not the same as renaming the Montego Bay international airport in his honour.
Mr Bertram must have been trying to eat his cake and have it too, allowing himself to be carried by the sentiments of the audience and later distancing himself, albeit not very convincingly.
It's a problem we have with some of our leaders who are afraid to tell the crowd that they are wrong when they are obviously wrong. That's what leaders do.
Conceivably, monuments have been built and honours conferred in memory of personalities that, upon deeper reflection, might have been found to lack real justification. But everything must be seen in its own time and sometimes it is the intention which is noble.
We can't go around reversing everything some among us deem to be unjustified. One of the great things about Jamaicans is that we have never been short of the creativity and the cranial capacity to do the things we want to do. We can find appropriate ways of honouring Father Coombs and others.
In the meantime, to borrow from Mr P J Patterson: "Fahget it". Leave the Sangster Airport alone!