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21 explosion salute for Max
The booming sound of an explosion, the first of the 21, to salute former president Professor George Maxwell Richards, shook those gathered opposite Belgroves Funeral Home, Tacarigua yesterday.
The bulk of those gathered were children from the nearby St Mary’s Anglican Primary School. They shrieked after the first explosion.
The Regiment had warned onlookers moments before that there would be 21 loud explosions as part of the funeral ceremony.
As a former president, Richards was not given a 21-gun salute and since the canons could not have been brought to the Eddie Hart Grounds, to give a final sound off, Regiment officials simulated the explosions, like they do on Independence Day celebrations.
After the first sound, and the tension eased, the children, who had lined the Orange Grove Road, counted each explosion aloud until the final one.
Other people gathered were recording the historic moment with their camera phones and tablets.
About an hour before the explosions, Roshanie Beetan took her two sons out of school. They stood on the northern side of the Priority Bus Route (PBR) as the Defence Force readied themselves for the arrival of Richards’ body.
Beetan said she wanted her children to witness part of history and view first-hand the procession.
On the opposite side of the PBR, a 68-year-old woman, who identified herself as Mrs Alleyne, said she just wanted to see the parade and could not recall much about the country’s fourth president.
Another observer said it was only fitting for a disc jockey and a music truck to accompany the procession as Richards had been described as a party lover.
Closer to the intersection of the PBR and Orange Grove Road, members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Military-Led Academic Training (MILAT) rooted themselves at the side of the road as Richards’ body was wheeled passed them followed by slow marching military procession.
Among those lining the streets with some sort of recording device in hand, was Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis.
The Minister said she wanted to see the procession just like everyone else and decided to abandon her vehicle and stand at the side of the road, camera phone in hand, to say her final farewell.
Inside the crematorium, only family and close friends gathered for a private send-off. He was cremated after the service.
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