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Preserving the stories of those who served

The trinidad Guardian / The London-based Commonwealth War Graves Commission says as part of its mission it intends to give new life to the stories of those who served and died during the two World Wars.

Peter Francis, spokesperson for the Commission said: “One of the things the commission is determined to do is to engage the next generation on the importance of ongoing remembrance and the stories of those who served.”

“Too often people forget that the two World Wars were global wars and the contribution and sacrifice made by the men and women of the Caribbean must also be remembered.

“We have just launched a Foundation to encourage the public to find and tell the stories of those who served, to put a human face to the names engraved on our war memorials, so that our next generation can better understand the impact of the war on our communities,” he said.

The Commission honours the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars and ensures they will never be forgotten.

The commission’s work commemorates the war dead, from building and maintaining its cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries to the preservation of its extensive records and archives.

Since its establishment by Royal Charter, the commission had constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erected headstones over graves and where the remains were missing, inscribed the names of the dead on permanent memorials. More than a million burials are now commemorated at military and civil sites in some 150 countries.

In Trinidad, the St James Military Cemetery, at Long Circular Road, is maintained by the Defence Force.

The cenotaph at Memorial Park falls within the ambit of the Port-of-Spain City Corporation.

The late Justice Ulric Cross, who was a Royal Air Force navigator chose Memorial Park for his final farewell and memorial service on October 11, 2013, recognising that the cenotaph and the park itself honoured people like himself who served and died in World Wars I and II.

Retired Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major General Rodney Smart said since the TTDF was formed, it was not only a tradition but the duty of one of the officers in the Defence Force to be appointed Officer in Charge (OIC) of war graves.

He said families went to the cemetery and lit candles for All Souls and All Saints for the war dead.

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