What happened at Fort George, on the afternoon of October 19th, 1983 made Ronald Reagan an “overnight” Grenadian Hero, left Queen Elizabeth II
mad, and many Grenadians sad.
So What really happened on Fort George that day? Well there are as many stories as there are Grenadians. Here’s what I remembered about that infamous day …
My Experience …
In the days leading up to that fateful day, I could sense something had really gone wrong. There was a strange stillness about. The kind where you knew something was eminent, but you just did not know when, or what.
My mom sent me off to school that morning as usual, but I was sent home – there was no school. When I returned home she sent me to run an errand in St. George’s. As I got closer I saw several pockets of protester’s headed to the heart of the town. Some were chanting “Free we Leader”.
The leader was the young, charismatic, and much loved Maurice Bishop. He was under house arrest, with Minister Jacqueline Craft who was carrying his child.
I was relieved to get back home, and told my mom what I had seen. She was happy I did not join in with the protesters many of whom were also school children.
Early that afternoon I was in my neighbors veranda (patio), when the peace was interrupted by gun fire. We saw scores of people emerging frantically over the hills that separated my village from the town.
The Unthinkable …
As the afternoon unfolded we learned that Maurice was rescued by loyalist, and taken to Fort George. He was preparing along with supporters to go down to the Market Square to address the huge gathering, when the fort was stormed by combat armored vehicles.
A fire fight ensued, many were injured, and no one knows just how many died. There is only one entrance to Fort George, so for those trapped up there the choice was either getting pass the machine gun fire coming from the armored vehicles at the entrance, or jumping over the very high walls to certain death, or severe personal harm.
Maurice, and his loyal Ministers and supporters on Fort George were captured. And what happened next made headlines all across the world. They were all, including pregnant Jacqueline Craft, lined against the wall and riddled with bullets.
Reagan to the rescue?…
Six days later Ronald Reagan sent troops into Grenada. The US invasion was welcomed by Grenadians who wanted nothing to do with the faction that had seized power, and murdered their beloved leader. Queen Elizabeth II was displease with the US decision to invade Grenada without British consultation, (Grenada is an independent country but still a member of the British Commonwealth).
When you are at Fort George
When you get to Grenada go to Fort George, and see the spectacular views of the inner harbor, the town, and the southern coastline.
But while you walk the grounds imagine what it must have felt like:
- To be trapped up there under gun fire
- To leap over those precariously high walls
- To be lined up against the wall, and await certain death
That was the reality of many on October 19, 1983 on Fort George.