This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
– HENRY V, Act IV, scene iii, lines 56-62.
No, we have not forgotten Danny Conorquie, and we’ll tell you why. When he was killed defending Belize in September of 2014, the attitude of the United Democratic Party (UDP) leaders of the Government of Belize was inappropriate and unacceptable. In fact, it was downright foul. The attitude of the UDP leaders spoke of a kind of snobbery which was historically characteristic of their party and their party’s antecedents.
In these pages, we have previously said to you that Henry V (1387–1422) was England’s favorite warrior king. In these pages, we have also quoted (as we do above) from one of his speeches in the William Shakespeare play, Henry V, when he was about to lead his men into battle against the French. He told his men that they who would fight by his side that blessed day were his brothers, more so than anyone would be.
Few people ever speak of two of Shakespeare’s other plays – Henry IV (Part I) and Henry IV (Part II), which also feature Henry V (Prince Hal), before he became King of England. In these two plays, the young Henry was sowing his wild oats, as it is said, while his father, Henry IV, ruled England. As a young man, Prince Hal ran with the roots people of England, but when his father died and he ascended the throne of England, he put these youthful days and adventurous friends behind him. Now, he had a nation to defend.
In England’s time of greatest crisis – war with France, Henry V expressed that love for the common people he had displayed before he was crowned. In return, his soldiers fought for him and for England with all their hearts and souls.
There are Belizeans in this country, and abroad, who have been “marching today” and proudly singing all their lives to commemorate the Battle of St. George’s Caye. But when Danny Conorquie was killed in the line of duty at the glorious age of 21, there was none so brave in Cabinet to do him reverence.
We have a problem with class prejudice in this country. This is not an uncommon problem in societies and nation-states, but there are institutions in societies and nation-states which offer opportunity for specially gifted citizens from the so-called lower classes to ascend to the ranks of honor. One of these institutions is the military. Napoleon Bonaparte, for instance, was not born to the nobility of France, but he was a brilliant battlefield general: Napoleon became Emperor of France.
Early on after Danny had been murdered at the Caracol site in the Chiquibul by Guatemalans from across Belize’s western border, this newspaper began a campaign to keep his memory alive. This was five months before the Guatemalan military kidnapped an expedition of unarmed Belizean civilians at the Sarstoon and forced them to Livingston. But, there had been a problem in the Chiquibul for some years before that, and it had just kept becoming worse and worse, until Danny was killed. It was fairly clear to us that this was a seminal moment in the history of the Chiquibul, and indeed of Belize.
The UDP leadership of the Government of Belize, however, adopted the attitude that the less said about Danny Conorquie’s murder, the better. It appears, in retrospect, that Belize’s leaders had gotten themselves so caught up in the ceremonial trappings of the Special Agreement (or compromis) of 2009 that their unseemly priority was pleasing Guatemala leaders and officials while impressing representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) with their magnanimity. And so, Belize’s leaders’ first reaction to Danny Conorquie’s murder was: we’re not even sure it was the Guatemalans who did it. Wow.
The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) at the time of Danny Conorquie’s ultimate sacrifice was not the opposition to the UDP government which it should have been. As a result, it was Kremandala, Danny’s family, and civilian Belizeans who kept the memory of Danny Conorquie alive until memorial services and activities were actually held in his honor on the anniversary of his death. It turned out that the first anniversary of Danny’s murder was the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the UDP, so that on the anniversary of Danny’s death, UDP leaders were congratulating themselves and their party on their radio and television stations instead of honoring Danny Conorquie. Not a word about Danny: that was a Partridge Street issue.
Throughout 2015, things kept becoming worse and worse in the Chiquibul and at the Sarstoon. The UDP leaders and spokesman kept appeasing the Guatemalan politburo and military. Finally, on April 21, 2016, the Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales, made an aggressive, bellicose speech in which he announced that he was building up Guatemala’s military strength at the western and southern borders with Belize in order to protect Guatemalan citizens against Belize’s “cowardly” army, which he accused of murdering a Guatemalan minor in Guatemalan territory. The cat was out of the bag. The Guatemalans were threatening tiny Belize with war!
We have come to wonder: does our government understand that there is such a thing as honor? All over the world, “honor” is an accepted code. Perhaps it is a man thing, but man thing or not, honor is a concept recognized by the world. On their masthead, in fact, Prensa Libre, Guatemala’s leading newspaper, describes itself as “honrado.” Honor is a big deal in the republic. People who respect honor, disrespect opponents in whom they do not see honor’s virtues.
One of the reasons the Jewish people behave as savagely as they have done in the post-World War II era is because they fear that their behavior in front of Nazi Germany was dishonorable. The Jews have vowed that such dishonor will never take place again.
The Government of Belize, four months before Centenary, is already beginning its preparations for the September celebrations. They should try to repair the disrespect they have done to the memory of Danny Conorquie. No one will think less of them for recognizing Danny. In fact, in honoring Danny Conorquie, the Government of Belize would be honoring all those Belizean boys and girls of humble origin who are the backbone of Belize’s military, and indeed of Belizean society itself.
Power to the people.