Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Stephen Richardson laid to rest

STEPHEN Karl Richardson, the Jamaican who was killed last month by a roadside bomb in Iraq, was yesterday buried with military honours.

The 22-year-old soldier, who migrated to the United States in 1999 and later enlisted in the US Army, was killed on March 20 when a bomb exploded near his vehicle. The explosion also killed another member of his unit.

Yesterday, the Richardson family remembered their loved one as "a man who, in his death, has brought honour to his family, to his country and to the United States of America".
Richardson's wife, Katana, told scores of mourners who crammed into the Chisolm Avenue Seventh Day Church of God in Kingston that her husband was a hero.

"My husband was a hero," she said resolutely, when she went to the microphone.

"Nothing bad was said about my husband, he was a soldier," "Today, I walk and I hold my head high," she said.
Richardson was honoured with the Purple Heart, a United States Military decoration to those who die, or are wounded, serving the country, a Bronze Star, for meritorious service and a Good Conduct Medal.

General Charles Cleveland, who gave the tribute on behalf of the US Military, said Richardson's platoon leader called him a "man of many talents and abilities." Richardson, who was known to members of his platoon as 'Jamaica', was also remembered for being the eternal comic.

The tributes poured in from St George's College, where Richardson, who was also known as "Itchy", spent his early high school years; the YMCA, where he participated in summer camps; from organisations with which he was associated; and of course from family.

Richardson's father, Cedric Karl Richardson, remembered his son in a tribute read by aunt Eulah Powell.

"He was a son of moral, respect and humility," who had left behind a to-do list, which had as its main item a charge not to "forget my life," the tribute for the elder Richardson read.

Richardson's mother, Jacqueline Hamilton-Carby, quickly cautioned those who might have thought she was too composed when she took to the lectern to pay tribute to her "cute, intelligent, unique child".

"It is not me Jackie standing here talking to you. It is the blessed holy spirit who was sent to strengthen me. My strength is absolutely gone," Hamilton Carby said.

The youngest member of the family, Richardson's 10-month-old daughter Iyana Richardson, was a picture of childhood carefreeness during the service, as dressed in her lavender dress and white shoes and socks, she moved in her baby half steps around the church.

Occasionally, the child would return to the arms of her mother, whose demeanour was the opposite of her daughter's.

Katana was a picture of agony. Agony as a result of the one thing her 10-month-old toddler's mind was not yet capable of- recognition.

Iyana could not know that she was at her father's funeral service, or that Private First Class Stephen Ron Oneil Karl Richardson's name had gone down in history with thousands of other 'braves' before him.

But the pregnant Katana knew more than her children did that their father would not be around to teach them to ride their bicycles or share jokes with them.

Katana's shrill wails of sadness, which started during a rendition of 'When the Last Teardrop Falls,' by a friend of Richardson's, filled the church.

"It's so hard to lose the one you love/To finally have to say goodbye/You try to be strong but the pain keeps holdin' on/And all that you can do is cry," Jodi Beckford sang.

And cry Katana did, only no tears came. She screamed. And when someone accidentally knocked over a photograph of Richardson, she hurried from her seat, picked it up, put in back in place.

She does not return to her seat immediately, but stood with knitted brows. Perhaps the fallen photograph had reminded her that she would have to create memories of her husband through images for their children.

From the Jamaica Observer

Related Link:
Stephen K. Richardson dies of injuries from I.E.D.