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‘Changing of guards’
President Anthony Carmona yesterday reflected on the sacrifices made by those who toiled and died in the oilfields as he paid tribute to a respected member of his hometown of Fyzabad. Carmona made the reference as he spoke of 86-year-old Rita Hodge in glowing terms, describing her as a matriarch and woman of great stature in the community, during her funeral service at St Paul’s Anglican Church, San Fernando.
Saying that Hodge was always a woman of great standards, he said she stressed this upon not only her family members, but all of her children’s friends like himself, as she regarded them as sons and daughters. Recalling how Hodge gave moral strength to his aunt Betty when her husband and son died, Carmona said: “It is a defining moment for all of us, who are in our 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, because we’re talking about the changing of the guards.
“We’re talking about a generation that is leaving and that generation has given us the values we have today. That generation has given us the moral fibre that we have today.” Carmona said people tend to forget those in the community of Fyzabad who worked in the oilfields and those who died there because of bad working conditions.
“We sometimes forget that they were the ones who created the environment that we now have to enjoy by their sacrifices, and so do we sometimes forget things like their work ethic, the fact that they worked from 7 until 4.30 every day in the oilfields, we have a problem starting work at 8 o’clock,” he said. The President said those people were not sure to return home because of the dangers involved in drilling and working in the oilfields. He said people in Fyzabad and South Trinidad know what sacrifice is and its benefits.
“So I wanted to celebrate the life of Rita Hodge, but I wanted to celebrate her humanity, her sense of caring and compassion because that is what defines us as human beings at the end of the day, not the jobs we have, not the money we make, not the house we live in, not the big car we drive,” he said. He said people would not be remembered for material things when they die, but they would be remembered for the person they had been.
Describing Hodge as a person of great humanity, Carmona said she influenced many, including himself, growing up, ensuring they had the proper moral compass. He recalled that she was a great seamstress and had the most beautiful flower garden in South Trinidad. The mother of nine, grandmother of 12, great-grandmother of six and great-great-grandmother of one was later laid to rest at the Roodal Cemetery.
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