President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC who is in Washington DC to deliver an address as the “distinguished speaker” at the Howard University Law School, took time off his busy schedule to pay his respects and observed a minute silence at the grave of Trinidadian born Army Reserve Sgt Kendell Frederick, in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) on March 2, 2016.
There was an air of deep sadness as President Carmona recalled the hopes and aspirations of Sgt Frederick. Sgt Frederick had joined the United States Army while pursuing his US citizenship and was killed in Iraq on October 19, 2005. He was 21 when he died without receiving his US citizenship, a situation that was later regularised by the US Government.
President Carmona also offered a prayer and noted that “in war, we all lose…nobody wins.” He said that Frederick was apparently searching for a better way of life and though that becoming a US citizen could help him along that path. To quicken the process, Frederick joined the US Army and was later posted to Iraq but was killed while actually pursing that goal. He had gone to a nearby army base to have his misplaced fingerprints from his application file retaken and was returning when a roadside bomb exploded, killing him.
His death became a rallying cry for soldiers similarly circumstanced. Congress later passed a law that would provide for non US citizens in their army to receive citizenship. Frederick, who held the rank of Specialist when killed was posthumously granted his US citizenship, elevated to the rank of Sergeant and awarded three medals – a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Meritorious Service Medal.
Minutes earlier, in a very solemn and sombre ceremony, President Carmona, who is also Commander – in – Chief of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery where “Silence and Respect” are rigidly observed. The laying of the wreath by President Carmona which took place soon after the changing of the guards, turned out to be a very emotional moment for the President and the scores of people present. These guards keep watch 24/7.
Prior to the laying of the wreath, President Carmona and his entourage were given a tour of the Memorial Amphitheatre Display Room by Katharine “Kate” Kelley, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and Mr. Roderick Gainer, Curator. Ms. Kelley told President Carmona, “It is a great honour for the war dead to be respected by you Sir and on behalf of the US Military, I thank you.”
President’s Carmona’s entourage included his wife, Her Excellency Reema Carmona; Major Dwayne Edwards, Adie-de-Camp to His Excellency; Colin Connelly, Charge de Affaires and acting Ambassador at the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Washington D.C.; Colonel Darnley Wyke, the Embassy’s Defence and Military Attaché; Kaanita Shah, Second Secretary, Zauditu Isis Lessey-Perreira, Second Secretary; Theron Boodan, Communication Adviser to His Excellency; Corporal Carl Patrice, Special Branch and members of the US Secret Service.
President Carmona also took the opportunity while at the cemetery to visit the internment site of assassinated US President John F. Kennedy where an eternal flame burns.