Overcome with grief, Lou Burrell rests her head on Carlton Burrell Jr., cousin of her late son Tahj. Her daughter Tiphani and Tahj's father, Captain Horace Burrell, look in the direction of the hearse bearing Tahj's body outside the Constant Spring Road Church of God after yesterday's thanksgiving service. - Rudolph Brown
A CALL for the nation to unite and rid itself of the "senseless killings and violence" was made yesterday by Labour, Social Security and Sport Minister, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller, at a thanksgiving service for the life of Tahj Burrell, the 20-year-old son of JFF president Captain Horace Burrell.
Tahj and his friend Jason Byles, a 22-year-old mechanic, joined a list of more than 500 people killed by gunmen since the start of the year. They were attacked outside a pizza restaurant in Northside Plaza, Liguanea, St. Andrew, on Sunday, July 23.
In her tribute at the service, held at the Constant Spring Road Church of God, Minister Simpson Miller repeated a statement she has made several times recently: "Enough is enough. Government can put the measures in place to fight criminals, but unless as a nation we stand up and say enough is enough, we're going nowhere.
"Unless as a people we find a point of unity to fight this problem, we're going nowhere," she added in a tribute that came shortly after one delivered by Tahj's sister, Tiphani.
A large crowd, which participated heartily, singing songs like 'How Great Thou Art', 'The Lord's My Shepherd', 'When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder', 'The Sweet By and By' and 'I Must Tell Jesus', attended the service. Many had to stay outside, even after some had been located in a centre at the back of the yard, where a large television monitor was set up to allow them to view the proceedings held on the day Jamaica commemorated the celebration of its Emancipation.
Taking a line from Bob Marley's Redemption Song, Mrs. Simpson Miller challenged Jamaicans to "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery", while painting a picture of a nation cringing at the whims and fancies of gun criminals.
She said: "Our parents fought so hard to free us from slavery, but we're still enslaved by the gunmen."
Her sentiments were similar to those expressed by Reverend Al Miller in a prayer.
Rev. Miller also asked the Burrell family to forgive the criminals, while Tahj's godfather, Dr. Guyan Arscott, who read the remembrance, said law breakers may have to be controlled by "harsher methods".
The thanksgiving service was attended by senior members of the football fraternity, including technical director Rene Simoes and general secretary Horace Reid, past and present Reggae Boyz, referees, coaches as well other high profile persons from the business community. Member of Parliament Olivia Babsy-Grange carried a message for the family on behalf of Leader of the Opposition, Edward Seaga.
The body of Tajh was laid to rest at Dovecot Memorial Park, St. Catherine.