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TONY BEST: Colonel not pleased with Bajan youth


TONY BEST: Colonel not pleased with Bajan youth

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IT WAS BILLED as a chance for Bajans to salute their National Heroes.

But it could easily have been an afternoon to delineate the paths Barbados’ next generation of heroes must travel to reach that exalted status.

So when Colonel Dr Andrew Harewood, a United States Army officer who is also the senior Pastor of Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church in New York assessed the challenges and strengths of Bajan youth who may aspire to “greatness,” it was clear the army chaplain, who once served at the headquarters of the US Defence Department in Washington, didn’t like much of what he saw in some of his birthplace’s youth.

“Many young people in Barbados seem to be in a daze,” complained the Barbadian during a National Heroes Day celebration last week at St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church which is headed by the Very Reverend Eddie Alleyne, a rural dean in the Long Island Episcopal Diocese. But Harewood was quick to describe the youth as “intelligent” and “bright.” Sadly, though, the country has probably “lost” a generation of youth, he noted.

Harewood, who enlisted in the army in 1990 and rose through the ranks going from private to lieutenant, captain and major to lieutenant – colonel and more recently to a full colonel during 25 years of active and reserve duty, complained about the youth’s lack of discipline and respect for elders, institutions and authority figures.

“Children in Barbados must first respect themselves and the country’s laws,” he insisted. “The lack of respect among our youth is pervasive. And that absence of respect must be replaced with boldness. Among the millennials there is a clear evidence of a lack of self-respect” and that was seen in the taking of lives and a resort to violence.

In an interview, the Barbadian, who insists: “I owe everything I have achieved to Barbados,” especially to St Giles and the guidance of his late mother Eileen Harewood, praised the male worshippers at Government Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in St Michael for helping “to mould me and teach me what was right and wrong”.

As he sees it, Barbados needs a “serious conversation” about the youth’s role in society and said the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill must play a vital role in that dialogue.

“The UWI should begin a discourse on our children,” he said.

Parents, he declared, must be in the driver’s seat when it came to spreading “core values” that range from integrity and loyalty to national service. The country’s leaders, not simply the politicians but others in various areas of life, must demonstrate leadership, he said.

Harewood, a senior army command chaplain who has served in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Pentagon and at key military bases in the US, holds degrees, citations and academic diplomas from Oakwood University, Washington Adventist University, Howard University, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and several US military colleges and training centres. Among them are a bachelor’s, a master’s and doctorate in divinity from Howard University. He and his wife Dr Karen Annette Harewood, a physician, have four sons and live in Pennsylvania.

During the celebration, Barbados’ national heroes – Bussa, Errol Barrow, Sir Grantley Adams, Sarah Ann Gill, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Clement Payne, Sir Hugh Springer, Sir Frank Walcott and Sir Garfield Sobers – were hailed in speeches, prayers, hymns, musical tributes and a sermon.

Dr Donna Hunte-Cox, consul-general, Alleyne, rector of St Gabriel’s Church and a rural dean in the Long Island Diocese of the Episcopal Church, as well as Harewood, John Blackman, vice- consul, Charmaine Yates, Lucene Walters, Davian Alleyne, the Barbados Ex-Police Association, John Lucas, the Rev. Jerry Bowen, and Nathan Alleyne participated in the service.

“We as Barbadians must take pride in our dress and in what we do and how we act,” said Harewood who believes corporal punishment by parents should be retained and used but shouldn’t be the first line of punishment meted out to misbehaving children. It shouldn’t become abuse.

Tony Best is the NATION’s North American Correspondent. Email: [email protected]