Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, was laid to rest in National Heroes Park, today (June 23).
The coffin bearing the remains of Mr. Seaga, who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989 and as Member of Parliament for West Kingston for 43 years, was lowered into the grave at approximately 3:36 p.m.
This followed a State Funeral, which was held at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, in Kingston.
From as early as 10:00 a.m., mourners who braved the hot early morning sun began arriving at National Heroes Park.
While the coffin, draped in the Jamaican flag, was being taken from the church to his final resting place on a gun carriage, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) accorded the former Statesman a 19-round gun salute, with each round fired at one minute intervals.
On arrival at National Heroes Park, the bearer party of JDF soldiers, in full ceremonial dress, took the coffin from the gun carriage to the graveside.
Witnessing the burial and bidding final farewell to Mr. Seaga, often described as a larger than life political personality, were several officials from Jamaica and overseas.
They included Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; his widow, the Most Hon. Carla Seaga; children – Annabella, Andrew, Christopher and Gabrielle; Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness and Mrs. Holness; Members of the Cabinet; Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips and Mrs. Phillips; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Pearnel Charles; President of the Senate, Thomas Tavares Finson; Members of the Houses of Parliament; Heads of State and Government officials from the Caribbean; relatives of Mr. Seaga; members of the diplomatic corps; members of the judiciary; other official mourners and hundreds of persons from all over Jamaica.
The Act of Committal was undertaken by Anglican Bishop of Kingston, The Right Rev. Robert Thompson; President, Deliverance Evangelistic Association, The Hon. Bishop Dr. Herro Blair; and President, Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, Pastor Everett Brown.
The Jamaica Defence Force buglers sounded the Last Post and Reveille immediately after the Committal, following which wreaths were laid by Mrs. Seaga, the Prime Minister, the Governor-General; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange; Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie and other officials.
In an interview with JIS News at the graveside, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, described the former legislator as a visionary and institutional builder.
“Mr. Seaga’s life is exemplary in so many ways. Many (of the) institutions he created, we have all benefitted from them. He was a firm leader and I admired that firmness. He believed in and fought for causes that he felt were important to the country, very selflessly so,” he told JIS News.
For his part, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, hailed Mr. Seaga for shaping modern Jamaica.
“I think he was a strong believer in the spirit of Jamaicans and our capacity and as such through the HEART Trust/NTA, he really set about focusing our energies on skills, focusing our energies on ensuring that no Jamaican is left behind and bridging the gap between the haves and the have nots,” he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said she was very honoured to have had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Seaga as an adult and a child.
“I think it is the responsibility of this generation to ensure that Jamaica knows, young people know, what he has built for Jamaica. He created so much that we still rely on today -JAMPRO, Urban Development Corporation… all of these things were his vision, his creations and it’s a legacy to be proud of. So, today we celebrate his life,” she said.
Junior Bedward, a member of the public who was present at the burial site, told JIS News that Mr. Seaga was “like a father to me. (He) was a very nice man and him give me good encouragement, and talk to me very nice.”
Ms. King, another member of the public who travelled from Ritchies, Clarendon, said Mr. Seaga was a very kind person. “Nothing couldn’t stop me from coming to Mr. Seaga’s funeral,” she said.
Mr. Seaga died on his 89th birthday on May 28.