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Uncle Metro was an everyday hero


EDITOR: Reading the tribute recently in the Vincentian newspaper marking the 4th anniversary of Uncle Metro’s death, I felt more than a tinge of sadness and nostalgia. I was reminded that memories of him are never far away – I can see his house across the valley from my home.

I remember him driving up and down the valley in a jeep whose characteristic appearance reflected its owner’s spirit – a working vehicle with a multitude of dents and scrapes that just kept going against all odds. Like the jeep and those he carried inside it, Uncle Metro was rugged and dependable.{{more}}

I reminisce on those days when I would glimpse him almost every day from my business in Penniston, his spirit of enterprise conducted without fanfare or accolades- he loved the land in all its possibilities and to the end he was always with the people.

Uncle Metro lived out his belief in ordinary people as strong, resourceful and caring. Unlike many in the business sector, he had no pretensions and never discriminated against those without a formal education. His attitude towards money was not to amass for self-interest but to share as a means to improve the lot of those in need.

When I heard of his death I somehow knew the valley would never be quite the same again. Uncle Metro demonstrated something intrinsic in the Vincentian psyche that is being rapidly lost through lack of respect for the modest, unassuming manner of doing things for others.

The practice of helping others without condition as Uncle Metro did was once the force that held communities together, the backbone of community life. But doing things for others nowadays has now become politicised or professionalised. Politicians act on behalf of those upon whose vote they can count, the professional renders service for a fee.

The involvement of professionals in village life is limited to occasional charitable activities. The lawyers, the doctors, the architects, the technocrats who hail from village life have migrated to residential suburbs. But Uncle Metro, despite his influence and success in business never aspired to be a professional if it meant being above or distant from his roots.

His memory brings to mind what is most desperately needed in our society to restore humanity, dignity and faith in our leaders. He exemplified what present day leaders seem to be lacking- a genuine hands-on involvement with the people.

I hope that some of our leaders may now study the community conscious example of Uncle Metro. I grieve for those who have not been touched by the awareness of the true Vincentian character of the soil that Uncle Metro embodied, who must surely sense a loss of identity as they look to foreign role models instead of their own and the unfortunates who look outwards for a vision of progress instead of drawing strength from the latent entrepreneurial spirit that lies within every Vincentian.

For though I was not born within these shores, I have been deeply moved by Uncle Metro’s exemplary acts of compassion and by his character which embodied the strength and fortitude of the mountains that welcomed me here many years ago.

I grieve further for those island inhabitants, particularly its politicians, who do not recognize their own everyday heroes, just as they do not recognize the part of themselves that could be awakened and reinforced by reviving the tradition that Uncle Metro kept alive- the community custom of helping those in need without asking for anything in return.

Vonnie Roudette