Wright F. George: Reality of celebrating a ‘humble servant’

By Dr. George C. Brathwaite

The absolute specialness of being Antiguan and Barbudan, or even being associated with this blessed country was borne out yesterday evening at a place once called the Langford Police Training School. For several reasons the occasion was memorable, disciplined, and demonstrated the potency of striving for excellence while sacrificing for good of country. The son of the soil being celebrated was none other than Wright Fitz-Henley George, for it was his innate capacity to influence, to organise, to implement, and to fulfil with drilled precision that brought reality and meaning to the proceedings.

A synopsis of those present at this ceremony which was immaculately ordered and efficiently executed by the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force, and in particular, by Superintendent Alvin Thomas and Corporal Karim Warner is telling.

In attendance were: His Excellency Sir Clare Roberts, Deputy Governor General, and Lady Roberts; Acting Prime Minister, and Minister of Public Safety the Honourable Steadroy Cutie Benjamin; His Excellency the National Hero, Sir Lester Bird; the Honourable Robin Yearwood; the Honourable Asot Michael; the Honourable Charles Max Fernandez in whose constituency of St. John’s Rural North sits the aggrandised location, the Honourable Samantha Marshall; the Honourable Melford Nicholas; the current Commissioner of Police (acting); Dame Bridget Harris, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and sister of Mr. George; Mrs. Alicia Grant, President of the Senate; several past Commissioners of Police and Commandants of the Training School; members of the diplomatic corps; the Police Service Commission; and other distinguished ladies and gentlemen from here and abroad.

Essentially, they were hundreds of well-wishers, family, friends, the police fraternity, government officials, and many members of the society coming to Langford because they knew that the evening would be as momentous as it was enthralling to see an 85 year-old celebrating his birthday on the day, return to a place where he shaped scores of other gallant souls that would serve commendably the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

The evening’s renaming ceremony of an institution of excellence in living honour of the life-long work of Wright George was done in the right place, for the right reasons, and undoubtedly, to show that even in the presence of such commanding forces of all present, there is always one whose torch would inspire, and whose light would prevail as a beacon for all others to follow. Hopefully in time to come, many would come to scale the very standards of excellence that former Commissioner George stamped with his dedication and endeavours.

Following the pomp and perfectly executed drills in which Wright George was appropriately saluted, Archdeacon Franklyn Reid gave the opening prayer in which he indicated that for Wright George, “public service was more than a job.” Then it was over to the rich voice of Peter Gordon as he introduced speakers who would in succession, repeatedly but differently put, give accolades to a man whose impression stood firmly in the foundations of the Training School that today now bears his name as testimony to the good that one man can do working with and through his fellow countrymen and countrywomen.

Assistant Superintendent of Police and current Commandant, Everton Jeffers took those in attendance down memory lane to show the genesis that by yesterday evening, evolved into the very impressive ceremony marking the stewardship of Wright George. The tributes id not just materialise in words, but were also rendered in song by the Police Choir, and later by the charming songstress Claudette ‘CP’ Peters performing ‘Wind beneath my Wings’.

Commissioner Robinson told of the inspiration he drew directly and indirectly from Mr. George, notwithstanding the heritage that he was able to draw upon from former Commissioner Elton Martin. If it was the vision of Wright George that ensured the lineage of Police Commissioners remain in hands steadfast to the task of serving and protecting the nation, then there can be no wonder that Robinson was gracefully admirable of the tutelage and advice he received from both Wright George and Elton Martin.

So exquisite was the evening of homecoming, that Acting Prime Minister Benjamin whose normal speech is good, was even more superlative in his message stating that: “You have done yeoman service to the country … you have left your footprints on the sands of time.” It was indeed fitting, especially after everyone learnt that the idea and location of the Training School could all be credited to the service of Wright George, and that he became the first Commandant of the institution that would mold the futures of the best of Antigua and Barbuda. On hearing Benjamin hint that by Independence 2016, knighthood would be another commendation for Wright George came across as poetic justice. The Attorney General used his pleasantry and Shakespeare’s rhyme to indicate that sacrifice and achievement would not go unheralded, and that long would the name of Wright George continue in the aspirations of police officers, and in the pursuit of realising excellence.

Dame Bridget Harris, former Commissioner George’s sister spoke warmly of his commitment to family life, and his initiation of being named. The Dame gave stories of his capacity to defy the odds, both at infancy and later as a fourteen year-old overcoming adversity. She spoke of his adventuresome soul fortified with a willingness to succeed and a stamp to always help others in their times of distress, she included. Such was the man, that Wright George’s attitude to work and passion to push aside what others would allow to be obstacles, was highlighted by his sister’s embrace that he worked under four Prime Ministers in differing capacities, and always gaining and being treated in the highest regard.

Wright George was graceful in acceptance of the ‘signal honour’ and thanked the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Sir Lester Bryant Bird. He signalled out Mr. Steadroy Benjamin, Mr. Wendel Robinson, and “Superintendent Alvin Thomas and all those assisting him with the preparation of the premises – a job well done.” Mr. George showed that his mind is ever as sharp as he recollected his stint in places like Barbados; he brought to mind the years and dates with an alacrity belying his advanced years. He spoke eloquently about the inputs he made to the formulating of the training manual, he recalled the many who passed through the school’s instructions; and the development of the Training School.

Wright George has been accredited for by all those who spoke so glowingly of his merited achievement, but equally impressive and showing that art is long though life may be short, is the newly named George F. Wright Police Training Academy. Congratulations, and may every police officer aim for your high standards, and may your policing offspring continue to bear the fruits that Antigua and Barbuda can show to the world, that we are united in purpose. Long live the name of Wright F. George.

 

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