Mrs. Jagan Pledges:

'We will carry the torch he lit'

by: Michelle Nurse

(Courtesy of the Guyana Chronicle - March 11, 1997)

The outpouring of grief for President Jagan from Guyanese from all walks of life is testimony that Guyana is moving towards the fulfillment of one of his many dreams - that of unity.

That was the message from his widow Mrs. Janet Jagan and other speakers at the Public Buildings State ceremony to mark the President's death yesterday.

Since the President's body returned here Friday, thousands of Guyanese filed to State House Saturday and Sunday to pay their respects. Dr. Jagan, 78, died last Thursday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

He suffered a serious heart attack at his official State House residence on February 14 and was flown to Washington in a U.S. Army medical evacuation.

The following is the text of Mrs. Jagan's presentation:

"We have all been deeply moved by the demonstrations of love, respect and genuine grief which we have seen demonstrated by so many Guyanese of all strata of our society, of all faces and religious groups, and from the young and old.

"That in itself tells the tale of the man who today we mourn. I have known him longer than any other except than his brothers and sisters.

"I can testify to the very special qualities that helped make him what he has become in the hearts of all Guyanese.

"He was above all a fighter, a man dedicated to win advances, not only for the people of his native land but for all humanity.

"He was a man who never gave up. When the odds were high against him, in betwixt of all those hopeless situations, he never lost strength, never lost the will to achieve his goals.

"I can testify to his goodness, to his honesty and integrity, to his lack of concern for the material things of life; to his remarkable intellect, always seeking the truth.

"He was constantly analysing, looking at two, three of four sides of a problem in order to arrive at the correct answer.

"My greatest regret at his death, aside from the loss of my companion of over half a century, the father of my two children and the grandfather of five, is that he was not given the time to complete his plans to fulfill his dreams.

"He had many dream for Guyana, to eradicate poverty, to build a strong and independent nation, to consolidate the democracy he had struggled to restore, and above all, to unite the nation.

"He fervently sought unity and never succumbed to pessimism. He always knew that the battle for unity would be achieved.

"Today we are seeing his hopes come true.

"Those who carry on despite this great loss, have worked under his leadership and know his direction.

"They have been his students; those who have stood by him faithfully all these trying years struggling for the people's rights, know his wishes, his dreams his plans.

"All of us will carry the torch he lit so many years ago.

"We say farewell to our dear comrade, our friend, our hero.

"Cheddi, rest in peace. Your name will live on."

In a moving tribute, son Dr. Cheddi Jagan Jnr., as he did at the Andrew's Air Force base, Washington farewell ceremony Friday morning, when his father's body left for Guyana, recalled moments of the last few hours at the late President's bedside in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

He said he wrote some 10 pages of notes from about 9:30 o'clock last Wednesday night. Dr. Jagan died at 1:23 a.m. the next day.

Reading from the notes, which he said also reflected the sentiments of his sister Nadira, he said of his father: "I will never forget the essence of yourself and the things for which you stood - for the poor and the oppressed."

"I rub your chest and it's still warm and moving and feels so beautiful.

"You just won't give up at all - you'll fight to the end.

"I know that you will travel to an oasis of contentment in your next life and I know that before I die I will see a rebirth of your soul."