George Graham

It’s Nice to Learn of U.S. Soldiers Extending a Helping Hand

I came across an item on the Jamaica Information Service web site that made me feel a lot better about the U.S. Armed Forces. You probably won’t read or hear about it anywhere else because the media don’t regard this kind of story as “news.” Not enough drama, I suppose. They would much rather scare us with predictions of an atomic war or whip us into a frenzy of outrage over some concocted “controversy.”

I am sure the story I read on the JIS site is not unique. Soldiers all over the world are winning friends for their country by acts of kindness that never get reported. I am repeating this little tale here because I see it as an example of a simple, inexpensive way in which America could influence the people of the world. To me, it makes a lot more sense than spending billions to blow up those who might not agree with you. Anyway, here’s the story.

schoolA team of United States Army officers recently completed renovations to the Bull Bay All Age School in Western St. Thomas. The team paved the school walkway, fixed the water system in the bathrooms, installed new toilets and painted sections of the school. They also refurbished the kitchen and installed a new security door for the staff bathroom.

The project was completed in two weeks. Sergeant Major Clifford Maxfield of U.S. Army South said, “Everyone was co operative; they welcomed us with open arms. It was a home-like atmosphere. The best part was the children and many of the officers got a chance to interact with the children to the point that they did not want to leave, but we look forward to coming back next year to do more.”

School Principal Mrs. Gloria Malcolm-Foster said the students developed “a good rapport with the soldiers to the point that some of them want to become soldiers.”

U.S. President Barack Obama recently launched a Caribbean Mission to battle the scourge of drug smuggling in the islands and to help the region’s struggling economies. In the past, this kind of involvement has sometimes had troubling implications. I am sure you’ve read reports of U.S. complicity in horrific instances of subversion and oppression throughout Latin America – much of it designed to further the interests of rapacious corporations. I hope the future will hold out the promise of more enlightened U.S. policies. After all, there’s a new President in the White House.

This kinder, gentler side of America’s Big Brother approach to the region is reflected in the help American soldiers have been providing recently throughout Latin America and the Caribbean when natural disasters strike. I am convinced that extending a helping hand – even by fixing up a rundown school – wins a lot more friends for America than intervening in the domestic affairs of foreign countries or blasting villages to pieces with drones, missiles and bombs.

Photo above shows Jamaica’s Minister of Energy and Mining, Mr. James Robertson (left) presenting a bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee to Colonel William Walker (right) of the United States Army, while Bull Bay All Age School Principal Mrs. Gloria Malcolm-Foster (center) looks on. Colonel Walker led the U.S. Army team that recently made repairs to the school, which is in Mr. Robertson’s constituency in Western St. Thomas.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for