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Government of Saint Lucia

 Address by Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy on the Occasion of Veterans Week 2005

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Ladies and Gentlemen


The St. Lucia Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League will be devoting the next few days to honouring the memory of those of their comrades who lost their lives during the two World Wars, and to bring to the national consciousness the needs of the veterans among us, those who thankfully survived, but who by reason of age and attendant ill-health must now depend, in large measure, on the generosity and goodwill of the more able-bodied among us. The passion with which the members of the League plan and execute this annual week of activities is testimony that for them this exercise is not just mere tradition, or nostalgia or a reluctance to let go of the past. It is for them a sacred duty, an unwavering determination not to forget the sacrifice of their comrades who gave their lives, their health and strength, who suffered pain of body or of mind for the good of the world.


And so it should be with us as a nation. Remembering those who fought for the peace of the world during these two World Wars is a national duty. The sacrifice they made imposes on all of us, in these times no less than in times past, such an obligation and such a duty. I am reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s Armistice Day Address in 1941 at the height of World War II. Speaking of those who had died in World War I, he had this to say :

“They did not die to make the world safe for decency

and self-respect for five years or ten or maybe twenty.

They died to make it safe. And if, by some fault of

ours who lived beyond the war, its safety has again

been threatened, then the obligation and the

duty are ours. It is our charge now, to see to

it “that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

We have lived beyond the wars : that of 1914-1918, a war which was described as “the war to end all wars” in which twenty million people lost their lives ; that of 1939 – 1945 which demonstrated that Peace and Freedom are not things that we fight for once and then stop. They are principles which we need to keep on fighting for eternally to be able to hold on to them. And this is why it is our national duty to remember and to honour those who died to help secure that peace and freedom. It is also a duty we owe to ourselves. To remember the sacrifice, the wrongs, the hurts, the brutality, the immense loss of life, the irrationality and the insanity of warfare, so that we may avoid them or avert them. We remember some of the horrors of World War II. Some of them, in the words of one of the judges of the International Military Tribunal conducting the Nuremberg trials, were

so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating,

that civilization cannot tolerate their being

ignored, because it cannot survive their being


It is for this reason, that we need to stop, at least once a year, to remember those events which took place some ninety years ago, in the case of World War I, and some sixty years ago, in the case of World War II, to appreciate the enormity of the danger that threatened and the compelling response to avert that threat. Every year therefore, we assemble at our War Memorials, and our Cenotaphs across the country to discharge our duty :


  • to remember before God all those who, in the two World Wars gave their lives for others ;

  • to remember all those who have died in wars in the cause of justice, freedom and peace ;

  • to remember all those who continue to suffer because of those two World Wars ;

  • to pray for the peace of the world.


It saddens me however, to witness the decreasing interest on the part of the public in this solemn national duty. Those Services of Remembrance, in Castries, Vieux Fort, Soufriere and Gros Islet are not meant solely for veterans, public officials, uniformed groups and diplomatic personnel, but for the entire St. Lucian community. One appreciates that it is not practical for all of us to assemble at the venues themselves, but I believe we could revive that interest if these Services were broadcast live and in its entirety over radio and television to reach people across the length and breadth of the island. This uniting in one common purpose would bring us closer together as a nation in the cause of peace, peace in our homes, in our land, in our world. The Last Post which is sounded at the beginning of each of these Remembrance Services is a final farewell to those who died and symbolizes that their duty is over and that they can now rest in peace. But as if to underscore the point that the fight for peace, justice, and freedom has to be an on-going commitment, the Reveille at the end of the Services calls the soldiers’ spirit to rise and prepare for another day. But it is especially for us who remain, to do our duty and secure the survival of our civilization, to ensure the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.


It is our national duty as well to help our ex-service men and women if they should be in need. It is this duty which the local branch of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League struggles to discharge all year round, with the assistance of Government, of corporate citizens and individual benefactors. The general public is approached once a year at this time through the Poppy Appeal, and I accordingly urge you to be especially generous this year which commemorates the eighty-seventh anniversary of the end of World War I and the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II. Our veterans of World War I have all gone, but you can read about them and about our World War II Veterans in the publication entitled “Honouring Saint Lucian Veterans of the World Wars” which the St. Lucia Ex-Service Legion will shortly be releasing. Their lives, their stories and the choice they made to join up to fight for freedom will inspire you.

As we observe yet another Veterans’ Week, and as we participate in the Remembrance Services in Vieux Fort on November 11th, in Soufriere and Gros Islet on the 12th and in Castries – both at the Derek Walcott Square and in the George V Park on November 13th , let there be no further questioning of the sacrifice that they made. Instead, as we see daily the on-going ravages of war in other parts of the world, let us commit to building on the foundation of peace that they laid by their blood, their sweat and their tears.



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