In a ceremony fit for a man who changed the face of the parish and nation in which he was born, grew up, lived and died, Owen Seymour Arthur was laid to rest at Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens – his interment inaugurating the north’s spanking new resting place, a few hundred metres from the hamlet that raised him from boy to man.
Following an over five-hour ceremony which saw his body transported from the City to Speightstown, Arthur’s journey ended with the burial in the spot he requested at Pleasant Hall, overlooking his home village of Benn Hill and a commanding view of the shimmering ocean off the northwest coast.
At the end of the service at St Peter’s Parish Church just after 4 p.m., scores of dignitaries and Barbadians began making their uphill way to the cortege’s final stop.
But long before then, onlookers had lined the road leading to Mount Pleasant, intent on getting one last look at their parish’s most famous son, who served as their Member of Parliament for 34 years.
Unlike the scene in Bridgetown which was sparse, the additional seating provided around the picturesque ground was almost used to full capacity, with only a few empty chairs remaining, while others opted to stand.
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson was the first dignitary to arrive at Mount Pleasant at 4:26 p.m., was closely followed by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Attorney General Dale Marshall, members of Cabinet and finally, Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, whose arrival signal the start of the final act of the day-long pageant.
Just after 5 p.m. a detachment of the Barbados Coast Guard and Barbados Regiment formed a guard of honour along the road leading to the grave.
Moments later, the Royal Barbados Police Force band announced the arrival of the hearse carrying Arthur’s body in a slow march with the playing The Last Post.
There was absolute silence as the casket, which was draped with the Barbados flag, was then taken from the hearse and placed over the grave.
The pallbearers of army and police officers then knelt as they folded the flag, before a senior officer presented it to Arthur’s widow, Julie.
The final rites were then read as volleys of rifles cracked the afternoon air, Arthur’s brown and gold-rimmed mahogany casket began its descent to its final resting place at 5:36 p.m., accompanied by the trumpeters sounding The Last Post Firing and then the stirring, Reveille, played at dawn to rouse sleeping soldiers to action.
The grave was then covered by an carpeted cover lifted by Coast Guard sailors.
His widow laid the first wreath on the grave followed by Prime Minister Mottley and his two daughters Leah and Sabrina.
In a poignant moment in which a statesman passed from the scene and a grieving family bade farewell to its patriarch, his only grandchild Isabella waved goodbye to her grandfather after placing a wreath on his grave.