Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Dumbfounded at hero's welcome for Buju Banton

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2018 | 12:30 AM

 

The Editor, Sir:

Every day, for the past several years, at least one chartered plane carrying U.S. soldiers heading home from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan has touched down at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

And for every flight at the airport, volunteers in the “Welcome Home a Hero” programme have gathered to enthusiastically greet the returning soldiers.

In 2005, after spending almost a year in combat in Iraq, I was returning home for two weeks of rest and recuperation from active duty, and I was greeted by the volunteers after touching down at the airport.

I was given a hero’s welcome when I came through the airport in Atlanta, and it was an uplifting and emotional experience. It is an experience that I’ll never forget.

However, I don’t see myself as a hero, but someone who was doing his duty. For me, the real heroes are the soldiers who never returned home from war.

So when I read a few days ago that dancehall-turned reggae superstar Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie was given a hero’s welcome at the Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica after spending eight years imprisoned for drug trafficking in the United States, I was shocked, saddened and dumbfounded.

Editor, how can a convicted felon returning from prison be welcomed home like a hero? How do you call a convicted felon a hero? Is this not insulting, shameful and disgraceful to the combat veterans who gave of themselves until nothing was left?

I couldn’t fathom how a convicted drug trafficker who brought shame and disgrace to his country would be given a hero’s welcome like a soldier returning from combat. Indeed, I have to say that I am living in a strange world because any and everybody is a hero.

How do you juxtapose and justify a convicted felon returning home from serving time in prison and a combat veteran returning home from a war zone and both of them be seen as heroes?

Anthony Pantlitz