Sleep on and take your rest, Brother Michael

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It was with a great deal of grief that we heard of the passing of our dear friend and brother, Michael Burton. For many of us, it was as if time stood still, as we paused to ponder the life and times of a true warrior, a soldier’s soldier, a fallen comrade in arms.

After serving with honour and distinction in the US military, Michael returned to Antigua and Barbuda where he eventually took over the running of his dad’s business interests on Independence Avenue. Under his stewardship, the businesses thrived. As a military veteran, he was a straight-shooter, scrupulously honest and hardworking. He called it as he saw it, looking you right in the eye, with a firm no-nonsense handshake. For Michael, his word was his bond.

In a terse press release yesterday afternoon, the United Progressive Party (UPP) declared, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear Brother Michael Burton, former candidate for the St. John’s City South constituency. Brother Burton had been ill for some time and was receiving medical treatment in the USA. The political leader, the central executive, and other members of the UPP extend sincere condolences to his wife, children, mother, and the extended family.  Your loss is our loss.  May his soul repose in peace.” Indeed!

As a soldier, Michael was fearless, certainly not one to stand in awe of, or be intimidated by those powerbrokers who make it their duty to retard the progress of the people here in Antigua and Barbuda. As you can imagine, his heart bled for his constituency of St. John’s City South, what with the shocking neglect that is so evident there – a dilapidated and polluted Country Pond, horrific roads, the unsightly and run-down Tanner Street, park benches in disrepair, and blight and hopelessness everywhere. The manifest malaise in City South imbued him with a zeal and a passion to come up with solutions for a betterment in his community. It persuaded him to offer himself as a candidate in the last general election in 2018, and again as a candidate for the 2023 election. Unfortunately, the Almighty had other plans for Michael, and he was taken from us. We are the poorer for his departure.

In his OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE address to Congress in 1951, General Douglas MacArthur, one of Americas greatest military leaders, quoted a line from the aforementioned army ballad: “And like the old soldier, I now close my military career . . . and just fade away – an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye!”Our Michael Burton certainly tried to do his duty here in Antigua and Barbuda, and we will sorely miss him. We here at NEWSCO will remember the many times that he would call the various shows to weigh-in on matters of great social and political import. His was a thoughtful voice of reason and resolve.  His was a commitment to free and independent media here in our fair State. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his bereaved family, and those Antiguans and Barbudans who loved and appreciated him – the “officer and gentleman” with the kindly disposition and the affable personality.

Laurence Binyon, he of the classic poem, FOR THE FALLEN, writes movingly of those who decide to serve God and country in the military, and lose their lives: They went with songs to the battle, they were young / Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow / They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted / They fell with their faces to the foe / They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them!”

Sleep in power, Brother Michael. We shall not forget you! We love you!

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