True soldiers know when to fight

True soldiers know when to fight

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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Dear Editor,

The Jamaica Defence Force hardly needs a mere Jamaican citizen born in this land to rise to its defence. Notwithstanding, my mother, Rowena Alicia, was a former soldier, recruited in 1954 in the Royal Army Corps. She spoke to the vast difference the army then, the British Army, made in her life.

To begin with, she was able to achieve the dream of being a secretary. An unknown feat for a young black woman. She told me all about her training in horseback riding, rifle handling, and the dignity of shoes and improved accommodation.

In her ailing years, perhaps forgotten by the many agencies in which she had given yeoman service, the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Legion stood at her bedside. They honoured her at her funeral with their presence and with the Last Post. The courtesy of the officers and continual response, both under the leadership of Major General Antony Anderson and now Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, have been outstanding.

This daughter of a former soldier does not forget this kindness in a strife-torn country where safety in your dwelling and outside is only secured by military watch. Just travel across Jamaica, soldiers are at every post ensuring that schoolchildren actually get to school and our roads and ports are safer.

I wish to caution Jamaica not to fall prey to a potential strategy to destabilise the Jamaica Defence Force at this time in our history. The very fact that any matter could be brought to public attention could ironically be evidence of transparency. How many institutions in Jamaica could stand up to that scrutiny? Their hands are all clean!

The press has the evidence, and there may be material too flammable to bring to the press.

Perhaps I am one woman who is ignorant or untouched by the atrocities of any sector, including victimisation, discrimination, assault, or battery. However, any examination of employment harassment, sexual or otherwise, requires deep analysis beyond the shades of any colour, race or gender. Compensation is the very least one expects. Sadly, in too many cases women are silenced or dismissed as manic.

However, I am grateful to my mother who taught me how to read and write. She was a founder of a trade union, Mona Non-Academic Staff Union (MONASA), at The University of the West Indies while employed in the human resource department. She toiled with the Jamaica Information Service, and was a contributor to The Gleaner. February 22, 2021 will mark eight years since her passing just one month before the death of my cousin the late Dr Heather Little-White on January 22, 2013.

True soldiers know when to fight, but also to extend care and walk away with dignity in their last office.

Helen-Ann Elizabeth Wilkinson

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