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King's Day Celebration - The Power of Service

The Power of Service

Remarks By
H.E. Governor Eugene B. Holiday
on the occasion of King’s Day Celebrations
Simpson Bay Resort

April 26, 2021

Esteemed Guests,
Good evening,

Marie-Louise and I are pleased to bid you welcome to this King’s Day celebration in honor of the birthday of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander.
As part of tonight’s King’s Day Celebration several persons will be honored with a royal decoration, in recognition of their prolonged voluntary service to our community. Considering the work of this year’s honorees and our experiences of the past year I have themed tonight’s celebration “The Power of Service”. I shall therefore in the next few moments share some thoughts with you on: “The Power of Service”

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The true value of service lies in its power to take us to a better place. I have said it before, and I cannot repeat it enough. Imagine what our society would be like without the service of so many professionals and volunteers, who, in so many ways, work to improve the quality of our lives.
During the past year we have been reminded of the power of service. We have been reminded of how much we need the assistance, cooperation, and service of each other and of others to protect us and to safeguard our lives and our livelihoods. We have seen the power of service at work throughout our community; in our health care sectors, in our schools, in our churches, in our law enforcement, to name a few.
As we work to find our way out of the COVID-19 health and social economic crisis, it is important that we not take the service of our dedicated professionals and volunteers and our partners for granted. We must instead lift each other up to give us strength to carry on. We must each day ask God to guide us and show our appreciation for the service we receive.

The song “The Prayer” sung by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, provides us with some powerful words to seek God’s guidance where it states:
“Let this be our prayer that:
You’ll be our eyes and watch us where we go, in times when we are not wise
Let this be our prayer
Leads us to a place, Guide us with your grace
To a place where we will be safe.”

And as we ask for guidance as a community, we must continuously single out, thank and recognize our committed professionals and volunteers for their efforts. We must stand still and create a platform to lift each other up. A platform to celebrate and acknowledge the work of our courageous men and women on the frontlines. Courageous men and women who continue to risk their own lives to protect our life and livelihood. Courageous health care professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, other frontline employees, and volunteers, who remind us every day that the protection of our wellbeing and our country is our common purpose. I therefore once again thank each of them for their invaluable and powerful service to the people of Sint Maarten.

And as we do so we must remember that the power of service starts with simple gestures, like a smile, a kind word, providing help with simple deeds and giving advice at our church, community center or service club.  Deeds that stand at the foundation of the protection of the weak amongst us. Deeds such as:
- tending to our sick,
- caring for our children and elderly;
- working to eradicate violence against and abuse of children and women; or
- working to eliminate poverty;
Deeds of service which strengthens our collective resilience and fosters our country’s progress.

Esteemed Guests,
It is therefore with gratitude that we shall in a few moments stand still to highlight the service of three persons. These three persons have been singled out to receive Royal Decorations because they brought out the power of service in their deeds towards many persons in our community. The three (3) persons who will receive a Royal Decoration for their prolonged outstanding service to our community are:
Mr. Gerrit R. Bergman who has been decorated as Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau as well as
Ms. Irene D. Hodge and
Mrs. Bernadine A. van Veen-Richardson who have each been decorated as member in the Order of Orange Nassau.

Together they have dedicated a significant part of their lives to the professional, religious, and cultural advancement of our population. They stand out for their unselfish volunteer work towards the promotion of the growth of the legal profession and mediation as well as for the advancement of the catholic faith, of musical awareness and of youth and community development on our island. They have as a result helped to positively influence the lives of many in our country over a prolonged number of years. And as such serve as examples for all of us of the “power of service” in the advancement to a stronger Sint Maarten community. 

I therefore extend my appreciation to all three of the persons who in a short while from now will receive a Royal Decoration for their exemplary service to our community. It is an honor and special distinction to be awarded a Royal Decoration and I hereby, in advance, convey my congratulations to each of the 2021 recipients individually and to their family and friends. And in doing so I would also like to pause for a moment to acknowledge the work, the service, of the members of the Royal Decorations Advisory Committee, RODAC. For the past twenty years the committee has prepared the advises for the nomination of many persons, resulting in some 128 persons being recognized with a royal decoration. To the past and current members of the RODAC I therefore hereby extend my thanks for your service and congratulate you on your 20th anniversary. Mr. Wally Havertong (chairman), Ms. Cassandra Janssen (secretary), Ms. Irene Hodge, Mr. Maxime Larmonie and Mrs. Valerie Gitterson-Pantophlet can each of you please stand.  For me it has been a pleasure working with you for the past 10 years. Once again thank you and congratulations.

With that I hereby close and wish everyone present an enjoyable evening.

Thank you,
God Bless you,
God Bless King Willem-Alexander, and
May God Bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.