World War II veteran calls on youth to end gun violence

Wishing Clement Liburd happy birthday: From left are the celebrant’s son Juni Liburd, Clement Liburd, Celina Bergan who presented the birthday card, and Jomitri Queeley who asked how the old man entered World War II. In the back are Anne Wigley (left) and school teacher Sherema Collins.

St. Kitts (May 7, 2010) Peter Ngunjiri – World War II veteran, Clement Liburd of Ponds Road Basseterre, while celebrating his 91st birthday on Wednesday May 5, noted that he was enlisted in the West Indian Regiment and given a gun to shoot the enemies of mankind.

Addressing well-wishers who called on him and presented him with a birthday card and a fruit basket, Liburd lamented that he does not understand why the youth today is using guns against each other, and made a passionate plea to them to put their guns down as St. Kitts has no enemies that warrant death by shooting.

“I do not like what is happening in our country today… shooting one another,” said birthday celebrant Liburd. “That is bad… very bad and I want all of you to take a leaf out of my book. I was going to the war to shoot people too, but I never reached (the battle front) but who I was going to shoot was my enemy, but we all here are neighbours. Once you look after one another, let us help each other rather than shoot each other down. God bless you all.”

The day had started with a son of the celebrant, media and communications specialist Juni Liburd, bringing him champagne and a fruit basket put together by C&C Superfoods. Juni was closely followed by Supervisor of Social Services Anne Wigley who brought greetings from her department and ministry, which are headed by Hon Marcella Liburd a daughter of the celebrant.

Before Juni could even hug his father, a troupe of grade five pupils from the Tucker-Clarke Primary School led by teacher Sherema Collins came in, with the sole mission to adopt Clement Liburd as their grandfather and sing customary birthday songs to him. With the large number of visitors, the pupils had to get in the house in two batches.

A fife player from Nevis, Joseph ‘Sam’ Freeman, walked into the scene and using a piece of PVC piping blew the Wedding March, to which Clement Liburd remarked: “That is the wrong note.” Freeman made the correction and blew the Happy Birthday tune with his pipe.

The first batch of pupils from the Tucker-Clarke Primary School who went to see Mr Clement Liburd in his house pose for a picture with him.3: The second batch of pupils, and teacher Sherema Collins, pose for a picture with the celebrant.

In her introductory remarks, Supervisor of Social Services, Anne Wigley, praised Clement Liburd for being a role model and announced that his daughter and Minister of Health, Social Services, Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Marcella Liburd, was held up by urgent government business, and would be coming to visit her father later in the day.

Mr Liburd, who is still in good health and speaking in a strong and authoritative voice, said that he taught, worked at the sugar factor, joined the West Indian Regiment during World War II, and with the end of the war, he worked as a public health inspector for 31 years.

“I obeyed my parents — that is why I am living today,” he told the primary school pupils. “I want all to do as I did because it is good to obey your parents, to obey your teachers and say ‘good morning’ to everybody you meet on the road. Do not mock people when they are old and sometimes they have lost their minds. So please, when you meet an old woman or an old man on the street, if you can help them go ahead and do it.”

He recalled that in the 31 years he worked as a public health inspector, he only summoned two people. According to him, when he visited premises for the purpose of inspection, he would advise the occupants on what they were supposed to do, and almost all heeded to his advice and they liked him.

Juni Liburd on presenting the fruit basket to his father said: “I would like, on behalf of all Mr Liburd’s children, to wish him a very happy birthday and wish him all the best. He has been there for all of his children all the time, and he is a very strong man from the island of Nevis but he has lived in St. Kitts practically all his life and raised us to be of sound mind and we are very proud of him that he has attained this milestone in his life.”

Before the ceremony could come to a close, one of the pupils, Jomitri Queeley, asked Grandfather Clement Liburd how he got involved with World War II.

“You know (Adolf) Hitler was the man who made World War II and they had to get rid of him,” replied the senior Liburd. “England had soldiers throughout the world because England then ruled the world and you had a West Indian Regiment, so I joined the West Indian Regiment in World War II.”

He explained that some soldiers who went overseas and entered active service were killed in the line of duty. Even though he had been trained for war and issued with a gun, the war ended before he was dispatched to go overseas. He also recalled that Anne Wigley’s father who was his friend went overseas, but before he could be sent to the battlefront, the war came to an end.

At the end of the short ceremony, Clement Liburd requested for the national anthem to be sung, and was rendered by the Tucker-Clarke Primary School pupils who had come to wish him Happy Birthday.

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