The Jamaica War Memorial or Cenotaph
The series on Jamaica Historical Structures”
continues, highlighting famous monuments, structures and building throughout
the island. It is being presented in collaboration with the Institute of
Jamaica, and today we focus on the Jamaica War Memorial or Cenotaph in
The Cenotaph or Jamaica War Memorial stands in the National Heroes’ Park,
Kingston, as a memorial to the thousands of Jamaicans who died in World Wars
I and II. The name “cenotaph” means a monument which is erected in honour of
a person (or persons) who are buried elsewhere. The Jamaica War Memorial
was originally erected on Church Street in Kingston in 1922 in memory of
those who died in the First World War. In 1953, the Cenotaph with its 1 1/2
ton cross was dismantled and re-erected at its present location.
At the time, the park was known as the George VI Memorial Park, established
on the former Kingston Race Course in honour of the late King of England.
After Jamaica became Independent, the park was redesigned and renamed
National Heroes’ Park.
On Remembrance Day in November and other special occasions, wreaths are laid
at the Cenotaph in memory of those who died. The epitaph on the white
monument reads: “In memory of the men who fell in the great war. Their name
liveth for evermore.”
Smaller cenotaphs in memory of the Jamaican war dead can also be found in
various parishes. A new feature relating to the cenotaph is that soldiers
from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) now occupy National Heroes’ Park to
guard the war memorial.
A ceremonial changing of the guard takes place on the first Sunday of each
month at 9 a.m., complemented by the music by the Jamaica Military Band.
The guard is known as the Heroes’ Circle Guard and they are changed every 48
hours – or every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when a fresh set of troops
replaces those on duty.
The ceremonial guards take up duties at the cenotaph at 8 a.m. each day for
one hour. During the one-hour period, the two sentries perform a series of
drills, which the public can view.
Barracks, constructed at the eastern end of the park, are equipped with basic
facilities such as bedding, recreation area, kitchen and toilet facilities
and capable of accommodating about 18 soldiers at a time.