Our Readers' Opinions
November 1, 2013

The cenotaph on Facebook

Fri Nov 01, 2013

Editor: An American friend who saw my August 2013 article on the cenotaph’s vandalism asked me if it had been cleaned yet. He was surprised when I told him “No.” That the cenotaph rests within view of the Police Station, but the vandals aren’t caught, neither is an officer deployed to protect it during carnival are points he marvelled at.{{more}} My friend couldn’t believe that none of the dignitaries whose pictures are taken as they lay wreaths at the base of the pedestal every year seem to care about the glaring, ugly splashes of red and blue paint that mar its surfaces. He asked me to take pictures of the laying-of-the-wreaths so he could put it on his Facebook page. He is doing a slideshow for 2013 Caribbean Remembrance Day ceremonies. So, I will be there with my camera.

My friend wondered if the descendants of the World War soldiers don’t lobby to have it cleaned and why the money collected from the sale of the poppy pins wasn’t used to clean the monument. He then asked me why I don’t get some thinners and clean it myself, since it bothers me so much. I couldn’t speak for the relatives and I do not know who gets the poppy sale money – but I am not touching the monument, because I was told by a reasonably reliable source that if ordinary persons started scrubbing the statue, they could well find themselves arrested for vandalism/destruction of public property! (I found that really ironic.)

Apart from the fear of arrest, you have to know what material the memorial is made from. Soap, baking soda, peroxide, water, lacquer/paint thinner, paint stripper etc all remove paints, but some may cause damage to the memorial’s stone. Maybe that is why none of the relevant authorities have bothered. Maybe they don’t know what the pedestal is made from either. May I humbly suggest that the authorities call somebody in England and find out? After all, the various World War memorial cenotaphs located in the Caribbean, (Barbados, St Kitts, Trinidad, Jamaica etc) can be traced back to England, so somebody there could offer advice on cleaning. Alternatively, ask around the Caribbean, as their cenotaphs are kept in pristine condition. While you are asking about removing the paint, please ask about removing the black stains at the top of the pedestal, caused by the run-off from the statue’s metal.

We must foster a sense of pride and respect within our nation regarding the significance of the cenotaph. The enclosure is NOT a bedroom for vagrants; the fence is neither a seat nor for sale; the cannons are NOT seesaws; the hedges are NOT garbage disposals; and the pedestal is NOT a canvas. Please start televising the Remembrance Day parade/service similar to what is done for Independence Day. The commentators and speakers can then spread this message to a wider audience. Please let the cenotaph enter the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1 with a clean slate.