Rest in Peace ‘Soldier Joe’
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Tuesday, October 1 2013
click on pic to zoom in
REST IN PEACE: Brigadier General Joseph Theodore...
NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday urged mourners at the funeral of Brigadier General Joseph Theodore, to “take the fight” to those making life difficult, and be an “agent of change” in the country.
Speaking at Theodore’s funeral service at St Finbar’s RC Church, Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, Griffith said Theodore supported him in his appointment as National Security Minister, and offered to assist him.
“What I ask of all of us here, in his memory, is to consider that we all try to follow in his footsteps and use this last wish that he had, which was to stand up and take the fight to the few who are causing havoc on the many,” Griffith said.
Griffith clarified that he was not asking persons to physically fight criminals, but to speak out when they come across wrongdoing, for the greater good of the country. Theodore died of a massive heart attack on Saturday September 21.
Griffith described Theodore as a great man who, “arguably saved the lives of many” by his action and leadership in his capacity of both Chief of Defence Staff and National Security Minister. He praised Theodore’s scientific, well-orchestrated policies and said it was a pity Theodore was not utilised as much as he should have been after his retirement.
“If I could just achieve half of what Brigadier General Theodore achieved as Minister of National Security, I would have succeeded,” Griffith said. Also delivering a tribute was Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Kenrick Maharaj, who described the negotiation of the surrender of the Jamaat al Muslimeen during the 1990 insurrection as the defining moment of Theodore’s military career.
Maharaj noted that while some officers were preparing for war, Theodore brokered a surrender. “His ingenious way was the key factor in establishing and maintaining the initiative throughout the negotiation that ensued, up to the point of the surrender of the Jamaat al Muslimeen,” Maharaj said.
“I respectfully submit that this country has yet to truly appreciate the historical significance of the choice made by Brigadier Theodore in one of the darkest hours of this nation and strategic effects that have yet to be understood or realised some time in our future,” he added.
During the eulogy, Theodore’s grandson Daniel Gingis, recognised that his grandfather had a very successful career in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and as one of the most successful National Security Ministers. “Grandpa had this commanding presence. People respected what he had to say,” Gingis said.
After the funeral, a parade was held by the Defence Force band along Tragarete Road from Pole-Carew to Phillip Street. Police blocked off sections of the road as the parade progressed to Lapeyrouse cemetery.
As members of the various Divisions of the Defence Force marched, the rain began to pour, further emphasising the solemnity of the occasion. The officers were followed by the casket which was carried on a gun carriage, then a riderless horse with boots facing backwards into the stirrups, which were led by two officers.
At the cemetery, the flag which was draped over the casket was folded by the eight officers who carried it at the service, and the flag was presented to Theodore’s daughter, Nicole Henry. After the blessing by the priest, Theodore was honoured with three cannon blasts.
Attending the funeral service were President Anthony Carmona; Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran; Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar; Speaker of the House Wade Mark; and President of the Senate, Timothy Hamel-Smith, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson and Opposition MP Donna Cox.