Jamaica's first Independence - I was there!
by Paula Loraine Regina Roche (Reilly)
(Cheney, WA, USA)
Jamaica50 Entry #3 -Jamaica's first Independence - I was there
I was fourteen years old, my mother Frances Welsh Roche was engaged to the general contractor who built the national stadium. His name is E. (Egbert) Powell.
Later I was chosen to represent Jamaica at the first day celebration.
I dressed in our national costume and was seated between, the Vice President of the United States Mr. Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird his wife, and his daughter Lynda Johnson and on my left was Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon!!
I was to meet and greet all the VIP's as an usher. So after I seated them I stood in the aisle and a bunch of photographers ran up and started taking flash photos of me.
They said I was a perfect selection to represent the "girls of Jamaica". Funny since I am a white Jamaican.
Anyway the photos were displayed in a whole page of the New York Times paid for by Citibank's Caribbean chief Executive Vice President, Robert (can't recall his last name, he was my mother's boss).
Then I got back in my seat and I was so scared and excited since there had been a rumor that the country would become violent right after the ceremony. Of course, you know Jamaicans, always spreading rumors that are not true. Nothing bad happened.
The ceremony began with the "God Save the Queen" then after it was played by the Jamaican military band then the lights were turned off totally.
For a minute it was so dark, then the light came back on and the flag pole was illuminated with lights and the Jamaican Flag rose and flew and then there was a salute of guns then the whole sky lit up with fireworks and the screams of everyone while we sang for the first time our National Anthem.
I have never felt so proud of my people than that night. It was perfect and I will never forget it.
We left the stadium and went to the reception at the Governor General's mansion. We had dreams for our country that we would become rich without the greedy English and all would be well but sadly it didn't turn out as we planned.
Still Jamaica is still Paradise, I am still so proud to be Jamaican and come from a country so rich with culture and history. It is the greatest nation in the world. Out of Many One People.
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