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9th Annual Veterans Gala: ‘Lest We Forget’

Local News 21 Oct, 2022 Follow News

James Truman Conolly presented the Veterans Associan members with a citation from the Government of New York City. From Left to right: Loxley Banks, Peter Hughes, Shadden McLaughlin, Andrew McLaughlin, Sidney Ebanks, Lester Purvis, James Truman Conolly, Paul Ebanks, Gerald Hardy, Rudy Kudritzski, Ro

Left to right: MSgt. Andrew McLaughlin USMC (Ret.) - President CIVA, Lt. General David A Deptula, USAF (Ret.), Mrs. Deptula, Hon. Andre Ebanks, Ms. Irma Arch, His Excellency, Governor Martyn Roper, Mr

Shadden McLaughlin pins the first poppy on His Excellency the Governor Mr. Martyn Roper

The Cayman Islands Cadets stand for a photo just before entering the ballroom

By Christopher Tobutt.

The Cayman Islands Veterans Association put on their ninth annual fundraising Gala at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday 15 October.

In attendance where His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper, The Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton, and the Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson. All the members of the Cayman Islands Veterans’ Association were there as well, along with contingents from all of Caymans Uniformed Services, including the RCIPS, the Cayman Islands Regiment, the Coast Guards, and Cadet Corps. The theme for the evening was ‘Lest We Forget,’ and was all about the supreme sacrifice that members of the armed forces have given for the freedom we enjoy today.

When everyone was seated at their tables there was the Pinning of the First Poppy on Governor Martyn Roper, by Veterans’ Association Member Shadden McLaughlin.  President of the Association, Andrew McLaughlin, was in charge of giving out fines to attendees, and one of the fines included having a poppy before the first poppy pinned on the Governor.

Veterans’ member Loxley Banks said grace, thanking the Lord for his grace and favor in difficult times, and everyone settled down to eat their Gala dinner. There were raffle tickets sold during the evening and there were some lovely prizes, with 50 percent of the raffle proceeds going to help the elderly veterans.

After everyone had finished, there were remarks by two guest speakers, MSGT Karli Ann Varnado, a  retired member of the US Army, and Lieutenant General David A Deptula USAF (ret).

Ms. Varnado recalled: ‘I joined the peace plan army a year and a half before 911 I had no comprehension how everything would change after that. Different training, a different enemy, a different world. My two decades in the army there were challenges but also so many opportunities…..

David A Deptula, a retired three star general, spoke next about the present conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and how we should learn lessons from history: “I come to you here tonight during another time that we find the world in crisis. Conventional large scale conflict has returned to the global stage,” he said. “Russia has plunged Russia into a conflict with the specter of nuclear war hanging over the European continent. Vladimir Putin seeks to resurrect the former Soviet Union’s spheres of influence that dropped an iron curtain over Europe following the end of the Second World War.

“While the threats we see today might seem unprecedented, they are nothing more than a rebrand of the autocratic empires that the free world vanquished more than 70 years ago. In the spirit of this year’s theme, ‘Lest We Forget,’ we should look at history as a template to guide our actions moving forward

“Just as Hitler quietly absorbed his neighbors in Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938, Putin capitalized on a complacent world to illegally annex Crimea in 2014 and begin a further assault against Ukraine. Putin paid homage to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century, conducting his invasions under the auspices of liberating supposedly, Ethnic Russians,” he said.

“Some historians and pundits saw the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 as the end of history, with the ideals of democracy pluralism and sovereignty guaranteed in perpetuity. However, the forces of totalitarianism are once again on the move. We must now link arms in defense of the ideals of liberty and freedom. Each generation must continue to make the same sacrifices on the altar of freedom if we are to maintain our way of life, and rebuke those who would take us back to the horrors of totalitarianism.” 

Vietnam Veteran, and James Truman Conolly who was born in the Cayman Islands had come all the way from New York to present the Veterans with a framed citation from the Government of New York City. 

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