the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexfeb 15, 2022

Remarks at the unveiling ceremony of the official portrait of H.E. Governor drs. Eugene B. Holiday

Thank you mistress of Ceremony, for those wonderful introductory words. And thank Mrs. Kalter for the words of welcome.

Family and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In short, Esteemed Guests,

A Pleasant Good Afternoon to all of you from the lady in red Marie-Louise and I.

And a special good afternoon to Mr. Alfredo Doornkamp and Ms. Patricia de Vries. I bid both of you a warm welcome to Sint Maarten and hope that you have an enjoyable stay on our friendly island. Mr. Doornkamp I am happy that you could make it for the unveiling of your work today.

To everyone, I am pleased that you are present to share in this special moment. It was a true pleasure to unveil the portrait with Marie Louise. A special shout out to our family - my siblings and their spouses and Marie-Louise’s siblings and their spouses - who are here this afternoon.

As we gather here, I am grateful to my late parents Eugene Bernard Holiday (after whom I was named) and Leonie Casandra Holiday-Marsham, who I believe are looking over us. Grateful for their example and teachings, to my siblings and I. Examples and teachings of the value of responsibility, hard work, discipline, respect, and commitment to excellence.

Esteemed Guests,

The painting and unveiling of the portraits of the Governors of our islands has a long tradition. The tradition started with the Governors of the Netherlands Antilles, was continued in Aruba after 1986 and in Curacao after 2010. Today we continue that practice and start our own Sint Maarten tradition with this unveiling ceremony.

Art, be it music, dance, poetry, literature, sculpture, or painting, has always played an important role in documenting and/or telling the story of people. Art as such helps to preserve our collective memory. It is therefore my hope that this practice will become part of the artistic culture and tradition of Sint Maarten as we continue to work to build our nation.

Esteemed guests,

Selecting an artist was not easy and having to do so during COVID made it even more challenging. It is after all not every day you choose an artist to paint you.  And you want to get it right.

As a child I was fascinated and remained deeply impressed as I grew older by the work of the late portrait artist Cynric Griffith. He was a family friend, and I was in awe of his artistic genius, of how he brought the story of ordinary people to life on canvas with his brush and oil paint. You can imagine that as I looked for an artist to paint my portrait, I studied their work with Mr. Griffith’s work in the back of my mind. After doing some study I decided that I would prefer to have an oil painting. After looking at the work of several artists online I was able, with some  help from staff, to narrow the selection down to a handful of artists. Following interviews with five artists I selected Mr. Alfredo Doornkamp and he was then commissioned by the Cabinet of the Governor to paint my official portrait. Watching his work online I was impressed with the way he captured the subjects in his paintings. If you go online, you will see his paintings of Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley, Former Governor of Aruba Freddy Refunjol, Mayor Femke Halsema, and others. There was one painting in particular, that made the difference, that is the painting of his godfather, which he calls “The Power of Dignity”. It reminded me of the work of Cynric Griffith. Two months and several virtual meetings later, here we are at this portrait unveiling ceremony. During the two months I saw photos of the painting as it developed and only saw the actual painting on Saturday, four days ago.

Mr. Doornkamp, looking at the painting I am happy I selected you because this painting shows your exceptional skills as a portrait artist. It has been a true pleasure working with you. I am very pleased and impressed with the result. You have in my view successfully captured my likeness and provide a glimpse into my personality. Thank you for a wonderful job. It is an amazing portrait.

Esteemed guests,

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic I did not sit for the painting of this portrait. Instead, this portrait is mainly based on a 2018 photo and several other recent photos provided to Mr. Doornkamp by e-mail. The portrait captures an image of me at the head of the meeting table in my office. A close look at the painting provides a peek into my person and background.

It shows me sitting upright, calm and steadfast, with my hands on my left thigh, dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, blue necktie, white pocket square, my Sint Maarten flag lapel pin, and my anchor cufflinks.

Visible in the portrait on my right hand is my anchor cufflink. The anchor is a reflection of one of my favorite hymns, “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life” and of my faith in God.

On my right lying open on the meeting table there is the 2010 edition of the constitution of Sint Maarten. I received that edition of the constitution as a member of the Sint Maarten delegation at the final roundtable conference, in The Hague, in September 2010. It has been a fixture for frequent review in my office as of day one.  Resting on the constitution is my pen which I often use to work out my thoughts and to prepare. They represent the value I place on upholding our constitution and the rule of law, on being informed and prepared, as well as my hands-on approach to my work.

On my left, I always wear my Sint Maarten flag lapel pin proudly. I am particularly pleased to see it reflected in the portrait because it reflects my believe in the importance of our unity as a people and my love for our island and country.

In the background through the window there is Sentry Hill, with its rocky top, in the distance. Sentry hill is as you know the highest point on the southern side of our island. And the name Sentry means to guard, to protect. The presence of sentry hill in this painting has a special meaning to me. It provides the viewer with a view from the window in my office. But more importantly it connects the painting and my person to Sint Maarten. This view represents my Cul-de-Sac heritage going back over two and a quarter century. It also gives the viewer a glimpse of how I view my function as Governor. As the highest hill on the southern side of our island named Sentry, it represents my duty as governor, to  always strive for the highest standard, that is for excellence in guarding, in promoting the wellbeing of our people and country. An obligation I swore to uphold as Governor of Sint Maarten. A duty, an obligation, a vision, I have and continue to pursue thanks to the support of my past and present staff at the cabinet and thanks to a few persons outside of my cabinet who I can always call on.

Can the staff of the cabinet please stand? Thank you for the support which you have given me during the past years and for your contributions to making today possible.   

Esteemed guests,
It is my honor and privilege as the first Governor of Sint Maarten, representing the Crown, to serve the people of Sint Maarten. I have had the distinct opportunity to build and give content to the office of the Governor of Sint Maarten. Following this ceremony this painting will be hung in the reception hall of the Cabinet of the Governor, as the start of a portrait gallery of the Governors of Sint Maarten. It will therefore be available for everyone visiting the cabinet to view.

It is my hope that viewers will see in this painting, a portrait of a man who during our country’s formative years and during tough times was deeply honored and humbled to guard over our country’s interests in service to our people and country. I am particularly hopeful that this painting will inspire young Sint Maarten boys and girls to serve their country and that among them we will find future governors. 

Future governors who I am sure will see that this job is a lonely one. When wrestling with national, kingdom, political, legal, or constitutional questions, I know that they will find a friend in this portrait.  A friend who I suggest that they consult from time to time. And if and when they do, they will hear it whispering: God will guide you, stay strong, keep calm, remain steadfast, strive for excellence and put the interest of the people of Sint Maarten first my friend.

As I said this Job is a lonely one. I would therefore like to ask Marie Louise to join me. The function of Governor is a very public function, and we are very private persons, Marie-Louise more so than I. She is therefore happy to stay in the background out of the public eye. Observant viewers of the portrait will see a monogram, three letters written on the cuff of my right sleeve in the painting. They are your initials, MLH. I asked the painter to include your initials as a tribute and recognition that you are my right hand and my most valuable support and confidant. My portrait would not be complete without having something of you included.

Esteemed guests,

In closing, as I said this portrait will hang in the Cabinet of the Governor of Sint Maarten. It will as such become part of official government records. It is my honor and privilege to serve the people of Sint Maarten. As a son of the people and Governor for the people I hereby dedicate this portrait to the people of Sint Maarten.

Thank you.