Governor's speech in celebration of King’s Day 2024 themed “Community Unity"

apr 26, 2024

    Distinguished guests, good evening.

    My wife Janique, our children and I are very happy to see you show up in these large numbers here  this evening. It gives me great pleasure to bid each and every one of you a warm welcome.

    Welcome to this our King’s Day celebration, celebrating the Birthday of His Majesty King Willem Alexander which is actually tomorrow April 27th, and honouring eight persons for their outstanding service to our community. They will be honoured this evening as the recipients of a Royal Decoration granted by His Majesty the King.

    The work, achievements and service of these persons will be showcased to you this evening as a testament to the divers spectrum and reach of their volunteerism. Their varied community work touching and impacting the lives of so many in our society resulting in enhanced positive community development and ultimately community unity. Hence the theme for this evening’s celebration, Community Unity: The diversity of volunteerism.

    Community unity is important for social, economic, political and the overall wellbeing and progress of a society. A united community encourages persons to work together towards common goals and the common good. As the gap between the haves and the haves not grow larger worldwide and within our community, if we do not do anything about this, societal problems will only get worse. When a community is united the people within that community are more likely to extend a helping hand and assist the most vulnerable within the community. This act of community awareness and unity is not unfamiliar to St. Maarten. Traditionally our society has always been one characterized by support, encouragement, empathy, understanding and goodwill towards one another. Colloquially termed as Jollification. And although traditionally seen when building homes and other physical structures. I encourage you to be inspired by the commendable citizens who will be honoured this evening because they have transcended from that traditional focus of Jollification to many different areas of society where a helping hand is needed to build character, self-confidence, pride, our community unity and therefore our nation. We are thankful for the added value they provide to our community and their contribution to the enhancement of community unity and St. Maarten’s overall well-being.

    As Governor of Sint Maarten I am therefore delighted, on behalf of His Majesty, to recognize these eight individuals, in a few moments for their contribution to community unity through their diversity in volunteerism and present them with their Royal Decoration.

    Our recipients this evening have portrayed continued exemplary work in and for our community with an impressive display of selfless service ranging from:
    • Filling a void and lack of quality service;
    • Encouraging and providing a skill-set therefore creating and expanding the possibility of job opportunities for our youth;
    • Promoting and aiding the development of a compassionate community;
    • Transforming lives;
    • Transformative youth empowerment;
    • Championing for awareness;
    • Relentlessly providing selfless care; and
    • Providing vital support to the vulnerable in times of need.

    With this extensive list of achievements as just mentioned one would think it to be an easy task to find and spot these individuals within our society, but it is not. It is not because these persons do what they do without looking for any recognition. Except for the individuals and lives of those impacted by their work, their work usually goes unnoticed and they function under the radar of recognition. So it is quite a task to find suitable candidates to nominate for a Royal Decoration. There is a committee tasked with that role. The Royal Decorations Advisory Committee also commonly referred to by the acronym; RODAC, and I would like to take the time at this moment to introduce them to you.

    Before I call the members of the RODAC to the stage please allow me to say:

    It is an honor and special distinction to be awarded a Royal Decoration and I therefore hereby beforehand convey my congratulations to each of the awardees and to their family and friends on this honorable and momentous occasion.

    Distinguished guests, I wish all of you an inspirational and enjoyable evening.

    Now, please join me in welcoming to the podium for their introduction, the new RODAC members, Ms. Makhicia Brooks (chairlady), Ms. Cassandra Jansen (Secretary), Ms. Fabiana Arnell-Vanterpool, Ms. Zylena Bary, Ms. Jessica Rogers, Mr. Garrick Richardson and off-island and therefore unable to be with us this evening Mr. Reuben Thompson.

    This committee builds on the foundation set by and stands on the shoulders of the previous RODAC committee whose members have served for a span of over 20 years. At this time, I would like to call to the podium those members and offer them a token of appreciation for their service to our community for year in year out seeking viable candidates for a Royal Decoration, putting the applications together and handling the segment of our program in which the Royal Decorations bestowed by His Majesty is presented to the recipients.
    Please give them a resounding round of applause as they make their way to the podium; Ms. Valerie Gitterson-Pantophlet, Mr. Maxime Larmonie, Ms. Irene Hodge (not present) and Mr. Harold ‘Wally’ Havertong (not present).

    Thank you, God bless you and your families and God bless St. Martin