The Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary hosted a day of commemorations comprising of two parts. In the afternoon, Minister Violenus hosted a luncheon for Seniors of Sint Maarten decent. During the lunch, memories of Sint Maarten of olden days were shared and the seniors and staff were offered the opportunity to extend their well wishes to family and friends on Sint Maarten.
The evening activity in the form of a reception centered around this year’s theme “Standing Triumphant, even in the face of adversity”.
Ambassadors and representatives of befriended countries, members of the Second Chamber along with representatives of the various Sint Maarten organizations in the Netherlands were in attendance.
The representative of the French Embassy, Colonel Christian Bachmann, spoke of the relationship between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin over the decades and the joint corporation in moments of adversity during his congratulatory remarks.
Henk Brons, Director-General of the Ministry of Kingdom affairs, in his congratulatory remarks spoke of the relationship with Sint Maarten within the Kingdom. He expressed the hope that this relationship, even though strained at times, would mature into a stronger bond for the sake of both countries and its people.
Minister Violenus began his address with the following quote by Lucia Marinac,
“If we only walk on days when there is sunshine then we will never reach the destination.”
Minister Violenus in his address went on to share the following.
It is with great pride and reverence that I address you on this momentous occasion which is the commemoration and celebration of our 62nd of our National Day of Saint Martin.
The theme for this year’s celebration, ‘We Stand Triumphant, (even) in the Face of Adversity’, is a reminder that, now more than ever, we must remember the challenges and setbacks we as a small island have overcome, particularly in the
recent past. It is also important for us to recognize that this resilience is a model that is in keeping with Caribbean traditions even prior to European contact. Since the first people’s set foot on our archipelago ours has been a history of adaptation and overcoming.
Speaking specifically about our island, from the indigenous peoples, who rightfully named her SOUALIGA meaning Land of Salt and OUALICHI meaning Land of Strong Women, to those enslaved persons who were brought over from Africa, to us the current generation… (still) weathering the storms, both physical and mental both literally and figuratively, we have all had to face (the) adversities and uncertainties, that came, come and are yet to come with living in our region.
Through our encounters and experiences with adversity, primarily hurricanes, droughts, and flooding we the people of Sint Maarten have always found the strength to rise once more. Our resilience has been tested, time and time again, through natural disasters, economic hardships, personal setbacks and many other forms of difficulty. Every setback has tested our resolve, yet today we still stand in triumph in the face of calamity. This is part of our DNA, a core part of who we are. As a people we have learned to work interdependently to contract/process whatever comes our way and not be defeated. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, whose legacies have instilled in us a mentality of pushing through and never giving up in defeat. (Semper Pro Gradiens)
Even now, in the aftermath of hurricane Irma and as we confront the impacts of this global pandemic, difficult choices had to be made to ensure the survival of our country and her people. We have again had to use the knowledge we’ve amassed across centuries to surmount the trials and move forward. Adversity stills knocks at our door, but we remain positive and find ways to cope.
We even today as the celebrations take place across our island (we) see the ways in which art, folklore, sports, music, food and spoken word reinforce our collective sense of self and community and celebrate our collective will to carry on. Here, as we gather in The Hague, we mimic this same spirit of community and recognize the importance of the arts in sustaining our desires to triumph in the face of any challenges which may come our way.
Considering this, today, the results of our resilience and our triumphs are visible on many levels. We have examples of overcoming and succeeding right here in
our midst this evening. These persons exemplify the true St. Maarten spirit and are making their mark in their areas of expertise. For that we are more than thankful and proud.
St. Maarten is home to over 121 different nationalities all living peacefully together. All putting their hands to the plow to move our island forward. If this is not a symbol of Triumphing in the face of adversity, then what is. We live communally, we share in our triumphs and in our grief bearing each other’s hardships and celebrate our wins together. I dare to say that each nationality represented here today form part of our unique St. Martin make-up. For that we are thankful.
We are also thankful for those of you present here with us in the Hague today and are happy for your acceptance of our invitation to celebrate with us.
To the previous speakers, I say thank you for your well wishes and cooperation over the years. We are grateful and honored with your presence. At this moment I am honored to make a toast, together with you, to our island Sint Maarten as we celebrate 62 years of STANDING IN TRIUMPH, even in the face of adversity.
A Thomas Paine quote that comes to mind states “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the person that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
During the reception, four Sint Maarteners were recognized for their outstanding contributions. In the field of Sports, Denzel Richardson and Dudley Leonora, in the field of research Ms. Lysanne Charles was recognized and Lisandro Suriel in the field of digital arts and photography.
Mr. Suriel’s work was showcased during the event, whereby the pieces on display were a clear representation of ancestors in their natural state and grace. Musical accompaniment during the evening was by Mr. Quincy Adolphin.