Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monumental legacy in the Chaguaramas Military History Museum

The news of the pending eviction of the Chaguaramas Military History Museum by the Chaguaramas Development Authority is a mere reflection of the continued mindless approach to heritage and development. Is there any interest in integrated development, and to understand that one needs not be done at  the expense of the other and each can rather enhance benefits to all concern? Without a national vision for heritage that are integrated into development plans we will continue to have this kind of idiocy cropping up.
The Military History Museum is a national treasure and represent the invaluable work of an individual and his supporters and that that individual no longer has the energy to fight for it does not mean it should be raised. It is one of the few real substantial heritage institutions that exists in its own right in T&T, struggling and succeeding where better resourced national museums are dismally deficient. They can well take a page out of the kind of commitment it takes to sustaining an institution like this.The Chaguramas Development Authority will do well to note that its current location makes it ideal for inttegrating it into its upgrade plans for the district, apart form the fact of the historic-on-several fronts district of Chaguaramas which speak to our existence from prehistory, through colonialism, independence and beyond, is iconic as part of marine, underwater, built, natural, political, social and historical evolution, and really, a boardwalk (!!??, and the Chaguaramas Development Authority's development (!!??)  plans??? And where does that coincide or depart from "national" development plans?
Gaylord Kelshall is a decorated national hero, who even wthout the decorations, and his history in the navy has through his work at the museum, the model club, outdoor war game activities and others has been an inspiration to many young and old. The hobby club actively gave participants an outlet for any trigger-happiness in a craetive, constructive and safe manner that the millions misdirected funding in being poured into short sighted projects in South East POS could do well to learn from on how to effectively empower young people into constructive activties.
I sat at Kelshall's feet many times as a young reporter, initiating the Discover Trinidad and Tobago series which later also inspired AVM Television's winning series Cross Country and my writigns of this series, as he filled the blanks in my knowledge of local history and connections that neither primary, nor secondary not tertiary level education provided then, nor now.
In editing and writing the introduction to his book, The Gateway To South America (http://openlibrary.org/books/OL23185567M/The_gateway_to_South_America), how humbled I felt, and priviliged to be so close to knowledge of the pivotal role Trinidad played in the revolutionar movements towards Independence of so many of the countries of Latin America and how the South American heroes as Simon Bolivar and others were as much ours as theirs - an element that is glarngly absense in our education system. It was knowledge that, categorically, no one else holds! CDA should be looking to capture that rather than start a new war.
As his health fails, the knowledge Kelshall has projected and transferred into the museum is an irreplaceable legacy. The CDA should  see the Chaguaramas Military History Museum as a monument to this exemplary citizen as well as the story of not only the Trinidad and Tobago and the region, not try to tuck it out of site.
 
see https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal
CDA moves to evict Military Museum: Founders want $25m to move | The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper