Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Reflective Mood for 1907 Earthquake Victims

Published:Saturday | January 14, 2017 | 1:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange (left), minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller laying a wreath at the 110th anniversary ceremony for the 1907 Kingston earthquake at Bumper Hall, Greenwich Town, Kingston. They are assisted by military personnel.

Among those who attended the 110th anniversary ceremony of the 1907 Kingston earthquake yesterday was the Reverend Ronald Thwaites. His grandfather, William Alexander Thwaites, was killed after the dreadful disaster struck the island, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 persons.

The ceremony, which was held on the grounds of the 1907 earthquake monument, established in the Bumper Hall community of Greenwich Town, Kingston, was a time of reflection yet urgency as persons emphasised the need for vigilance.

"I feel a sense of reverence to be here. The story of the family is that he was standing outside his business place, which was on King Street (downtown Kingston), with another gentleman when the shock came. It pushed him out of the way, and that gentleman lost his leg, but my grandfather was killed. My family was unable to find his body and later learnt that he was buried among the unrecognisable here (Bumper Hall)," Thwaites said.

VALUE OF LIFE

He noted that the family had developed an acute sense of the danger and the vulnerability to earthquakes, adding that it was critical that citizens see the value of life and reverence for the memory of ancestors.

"I would hope that we do not panic at the reality that we are in an earthquake zone but are conscious of the need to prepare, especially those who have been vulnerable over the years," he said.

"Hopefully, the easy sense of complacency will not persist. There's an imperative as an inner-city member of Parliament to urge and do whatever I can for the restoration of Kingston," said the opposition spokesman on education.

Other persons in attendance included Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller; Olivia Babsy Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport; and various councillors from the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com