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More than a military unit

The Bermuda Regiment emerged from a period of social injustice, which saw young men of colour subjected to a system of segregation designed by those in authority at the time, who felt even in the military, skin colour made a difference, so hence we had the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, and the Bermuda Militia Artillery, known as the BMAs.

I doubt if the enemy cared much about what colour the soldier was who was shooting at him.

The same problem existed in the United States, a direct result of post slavery racial policies which lead to black soldiers struggling to be treated as equals, even while laying down their lives for their country. Despite proving themselves both on the ground and in the air, the nation had to undergo mountains of protests before finally coming to grips with reality, and outlawing all forms of racial discrimination including the armed forces, with new civil rights laws.

In fact it was a bitter long struggle with countless lives lost before the nation eventually was able to elect a black President, something unheard of a few decades ago.

Although in recent years, the walls of social injustice, have crumbled throughout most of the free world, the battle for true justice for all continues, with new threats from different parts of the globe.

Most countries large and small, try to meet this challenge with an able defence force.

With the walls of segregation ripped away, one man rose through the ranks of the US armed forces, to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He was General Colin Powell, still one of the most respected persons in America.

However military service in democratic jurisdictions has also been a place of opportunity for learning various skills that can later be applied to civilian life.

Many young men here have attributed success to having served in the Bermuda Regiment, with one telling me some years ago, that he was on a path to self destruction, which was turned around the moment he was exposed to what standards the army expected.

In a sense, the Bermuda Regiment today represents the last frontier of discipline and order.

When the Bermuda Regiment and their outstanding band are on parade, Bermudians display a sense of pride which can only make every man or woman on parade feel extra special in carrying out their duty of serving their homeland, Bermuda.

This was so evident during the Bermuda Connection event in Washington, DC some years ago, when a loud cheer erupted as the band in full military regalia, briskly strode onto the Mall grounds, with the Capitol building forming a magnificent backdrop in the distance.

Every Bermudian present felt a rush of excitement and pride that no words could explain.

As a special committee has been formed to solicit input from the community on ways to make the regiment more appealing to our young men and women, hopefully greater emphasis will be placed on making the military service an opening for learning various trade skills.

There maybe a programme in place at the moment but there is always room for improvement.

Many airline pilots in the United States, received their early training in the armed forces which was extremely costly in the private sector.

In fact the army provided opportunities for numerous careers in the private sector.

In addition to providing overall security during emergencies such as hurricanes and any type of disorder, the Bermuda Regiment has also played an active role in helping out when Islands to our south fell victim to the might of a hurricane.

The Bermuda Regiment is not just a military unit, it is an institution of Bermudian pride which should be preserved as a symbol of a new day of closer ties with all Bermudians.

There will always be negative views about military service, but the positives outweigh those negatives by a long shot. The making of a soldier is different from the making a boy scout.

Perhaps this is what inspired the popular American composer, Irving Berlin, to write the song, “This is the army mister Jones, we have no private telephones, you had your breakfast in bed before, but you won't have it there anymore.”

Of course in todays modern world, the breakfast part still stands, but the phone situation is a different story.

The bottom line here is that army life is certainly not a picnic every day, but the Bermuda Regiment remains a beacon for any young person willing to experience responsibility and discipline, qualities so necessary in life.

We can only hope our Regiment will continue to be a vital guidepost in keeping such values as discipline, respect, and responsibility alive for many years to come.

Photo by Meredith Andrews Bermuda Regiment soldiers line up for formation in 2004. Columnist Al Seymour says the Bermuda Regiment 'remains a beacon for any young person willing to experience responsibility and discipline, qualities so necessary in life'.

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Published September 14, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm)

More than a military unit

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