The recent announcement by the NDC government to declare October 19 a national holiday and, more important, to integrate the history of the Grenada Revolution into civics classes in Grenadian schools is indeed heartening.
After 39 years, memories of the triumphs and achievements of the Grenada Revolution as well as its mistakes and failures remain fresh in the minds of older Grenadians. Yet our youth have remained largely uninformed about this important chapter of Grenada’s history, which has been overlooked and avoided, owing to wilful or benign neglect.
The shocking events of October 19, 1983, whose effects reverberated across the Caribbean and beyond, created deep psychological wounds that have never really healed. One coping mechanism adopted by some persons directly affected by the events of that fateful day has been to retreat in silence.
While silence is a common reaction to trauma, it has, in the case of Grenada, created a void in our society that needs to be filled with factual and unbiased information related to those four-and a-half years during which Grenada embarked on an alternative path to development that crumbled so abruptly, so brutally, so tragically.
A number of persons with intimate knowledge of the Grenada Revolution and its immediate aftermath are now deceased and have taken their closely guarded secrets with them to their graves. Vital historical information has, therefore, been lost.
However, rather than lament the irretrievable, we can look to the future with optimism. To teach and enlighten our youth, accurate and unbiased information can be culled from the many books, articles and papers written on the Grenada revolution.
Furthermore, time still remains for persons with information on the revolution, in particular the events related to October 19, 1983, to step out of the shadows, reckon with the past, and provide a wholly truthful account to Grenadians of what happened prior to, on, and immediately following October 19, 1983.
We have heard about Truth and Reconciliation Commissions around the world. In Grenada, although we have had our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it remains vital that we pay closer attention to the ordering of these three words. Truth and reconciliation. Truth precedes reconciliation.
The NDC government has taken the bold and positive step of opening a window that has remained tightly shut for far too long. It is my hope that fresh air and bright light will enter through this window, thus paving the way for genuine peace and reconciliation, which have eluded us for 39 long years.
Marise La Grenade-Lashley