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Priest: Do not seek revenge

Published: 
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Slain soldier laid to rest...
Members of the T&T Defence Force form an honour guard as Lance Corporal Rawle Fletcher’s casket is carried out of the Isaiah Temple Shouter Baptist Church following his funeral service yesterday. PHOTOs: RISHI RAGOONATH

Do not seek revenge. This was the appeal from Archdeacon Roger Yearwood yesterday, as he addressed relatives of murdered father of three Lance Cpl Rawle Fletcher. Yearwood, speaking at Fletcher’s funeral at the Isaiah Temple Shouter Baptist Church in Preysal, urged Fletcher’s family to turn to God and not to let his passing be in vain. “This is not a time to hate. This is not a time to take revenge. Vengeance is not mine. This is a time to come together,” Yearwood urged.

 

 

Fletcher, 34, of Polo Grounds Road, Preysal, was shot and killed last week while liming outside the Sandy Annan Bar, near Inshan Ali Park, Preysal. Fletcher’s best friend, businessman Mitra Maharaj, and Anil Diram, a 19-year-old National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) student, were also shot and killed in the incident. No suspects have been held in the killing. The church was packed inside and outside yesterday as the 34-year-old lance corporal, who was also a Defence Force Football Club defender, was laid to rest.

 

A gentle rain began as Fletcher’s casket, draped with the T&T Regiment flag, was carried into the church by military pallbearers. During the service, Fletcher’s brother, Roston, who was being consoled and restrained by female relatives, broke free of their hands and walked over to his brother’s casket. He placed his hand on top the casket, tapped it and turned his eyes skyward. At this stage, their crying mother, Margaret, said, “I will sing and praise when I see my son again. Why you leave you mommy so?” 

 

Yearwood, in his sermon, urged mourners not to “rebuke God for what has happened,” saying God had a way of doing things that “we will never understand.” “Sometimes we need a shake-down and God knows how to shake us down,” he added. Yearwood also told relatives not to lose hope, since they had been given a gift.

 

“What it is wrapped up in now is grief, sorrow, confusion and anxiety, but we know in the end of the day when God’s gift is revealed it is always a blessing,” he said. Fletcher’s uncle, Boysie, said his nephew always stood up for his brothers and was loving towards his sisters. He had one simple request for relatives, “Do not seek revenge, but (to be) closer to the Lord.” Archbishop Stephen Julien also echoed Boysie’s sentiments. 

 

Julien told relatives of the murdered soldier not to act even if they were told who had killed Fletcher. “Have no vengeance, have no hatred in your heart. God will take care of that,” he said. “Those who are shooting people out there for nothing, turn to God.” He also urged the mourning family to turn to God because Fletcher had promised that “next year he would receive Christ” and now it was too late. Fletcher’s sister Valerie, in her eulogy, read notes from Fletcher’s son and daughter to their father.

 

The son’s note read that he would remember Fletcher as a “loving father” and no one could replace him. His daughter wrote that her father was “kind and generous.” Valerie said her brother was the friend of many and enemy of few. “And it was those few who took him away from us,” she said. Sub-lieutenant L Richardson described Fletcher, who joined the regiment in 2004, as a “live wire” and an excellent footballer. Maharaj’s relative, Ishwar, said Mitra and Fletcher were inseparable. 

 

“They partied together, played together and they even died together. Rawle was an inspiration,” he added. Fletcher was buried with full military rites at the Preysal Cemetery. The 21-gun salute rang out as drops of rain fell on Fletcher’s casket while it was lowered into his grave.

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