Lady Gladys Bustamante, the 97-year-old female icon of Jamaica’s political and labour struggles was laid to rest at National Heroes Park downtown, Kingston on Saturday evening (Aug. 8).
The casket bearing her remains was buried in the same mausoleum as her late husband, National Hero, political and labour leader, the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, who died 32 years ago, and in lose proximity to other Jamaican National Heroes, who have all either been buried at the park, or have had monuments erected in their memory there.
Plans for a march from Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Liguanea, where the funeral service was held, to National Heroes Park, had to be shelved as the service ran into late afternoon.
However, the vehicles travelled slowly down the winding journey to Heroes Park, with mourners following the casket borne on an ancient gun carriage and pulled by a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Toyota Land Cruiser.
Ten wreaths were laid on the casket, after it was rested on a pulley by members of a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Guard Honour colourfully dressed in their red and white tunics, who carried it from hearse to graveside.
Just as at the church, where hundreds braved extremely warm afternoon temperatures to listen to the messages from a number of officials, friends and family members, hundreds more watched in a much cooler atmosphere at National Heroes Park, as the JCF Guard of Honour undraped the casket of the Jamaican flag, which had covered it all afternoon.
The scene remained sombre, as they watched from huge white tents or under the shade of the trees, as the ground staff lowered the casket halfway down the grave and the wreaths were laid, and silently mourned as the coffin was lowered into the grave and covered with cement.
While the combined JCF/Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) band played the hymn “Abide With Me”, wreaths were laid on the casket by: Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding; Opposition Leader, Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; former Prime Ministers, Most Hon. Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson; His Worship the Mayor of Kingston, Senator Desmond McKenzie; Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, as Chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party; President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) Lloyd Goodleigh; President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Kavan Gayle; and Miss Morine Shakes, on behalf of the family.