Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Their hairs are snowy white these days, some walked slowly with the aid of sticks, while the wrinkles on their brows much more pronounced, told the story of the passage of time since they last graced the parliamentary chamber of Gordon House as senators and members of parliament yesterday.
But their heads were held high, bolstered, no doubt, by a fierce sense of pride, old and ageing parliamentarians would not miss this momentous occasion for the world - they were the men and women who had made their contribution to nation building in Jamaica's legislature.
"When push comes to shove, Jamaica will always rise together," was how the former president of the Senate Oswald Harding summed up the occasion that was the special joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament.
"Whatever their differences, whatever the problems may be, it is our thing and we are going to do it together," declared the man who has been a primary figure in Jamaican politics for more than a decade.
An irresistible sense of national pride was on grand display as parlia-mentarians past and present merged in a strong show of solidarity at the special joint sitting of Parliament.
Historic men and women
Among those in attendance were former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke; former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, as well as Terry Gillette; Derrick Rochester; High Commissioner Anthony Johnson and Errol Ennis, and a host of others.
Former parliamentarian George Lyn limped into the festivities with his walking stick, but remained until the end, testimony of his unwavering commitment to Jamaica's cause.
"I think it a historic occasion," declared Harding. "There was definitely a unity that was forged both from the standpoint of both Houses meeting, which in itself is symbolic, but there was a unity on the political leadership as well."
Former senator, Winston Davidson, concurred: "Let's hope that in terms of the speeches that were given and the feeling of goodwill within the House of past, the present, senators and the Lower House will augur well for the future."
Inspiring was how another former senator, Donna Scott Bhoorasingh, described the occasion.
"Today was a momentous occasion because I think that it is good to look back at what you have accomplished but also to envision what the future holds for you, the sense of unity that pervades the chamber, for me, is encouraging ... I look forward to the future," she declared.
"We have much to celebrate but we also have much to do and I am confident that we will achieve all of our objectives," Bhoorasingh added.
"Very good, most excellent," gushed former member of parliament, Cliff Stone. "It is most appropriate that we have the African heads of government here," he said in reference to the visit of president of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. "There was a sense of unity, but it was much more than that. There was a sense of belonging, a sense of achievement."