Sunday, December 17, 2017

Collective gasp as flag falls twice

THE national flag which draped the casket of Arthur NR Robinson fell twice at the State Ecumenical Service for the former president and prime minister at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago, yesterday.

This caused a collective gasp among the hundreds in the stands, with some claiming it was a bad omen.

Others blamed the heavy winds said to be a regular feature of the area for the occurrence.

Robinson died on April 9 at age 87.

Yesterday marked the end of a five-day State funeral to honour Robinson’s life.

Following an ecumenical service at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain on Tuesday, Robinson’s body was flown to Tobago.

Members of the public were allowed to pay their final respects, as Robinson’s body was allowed to lie in state at the Legislative Chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Scarborough.

Robinson, a former THA chairman, was born in Castara.

For yesterday’s service, the body arrived at Dwight Yorke Stadium around 9.20 a.m. It was placed in the centre of the stage set up for the proceedings by Defence Force pallbearers.

Moments after being placed centre stage, the flag which draped the casket fell to the ground.

There were gasps from the crowd.

A Defence Force official fixed the flag and walked away.

Moments later, it fell again. The crowd gasped again. “That is a sign,” a woman said.

Others countered it was nothing super­natural, but simply the heavy winds the area is known for.

Allen Granville, who delivered the first tribute for Robinson, brought the crowd to their feet with a soca song performed in Robin­son’s honour.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and Chief Secretary Orville London also offered tributes.

The funeral service featured prayers, rea­dings and spiritual songs, including the Roxborough Community Chorale singing “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Robinson’s body was removed to the song “Because of Who You Are”, sung by Signal Hill Alumni Choir.

Robinson’s family followed the procession.

The funeral ended around noon.

As the body was being removed, the black hat worn by Robinson’s daughter, Ann Margaret, flew off in the direction of the casket.