the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexjul 01, 2016

Remember Emancipation, When, Where and Why?

By His Excellency Governor E.B. Holiday Delivered on the Occasion of the Observance of the 153rd anniversary of Emancipation Day

Emilio Wilson Estate, Sint Maarten

My Fellow Sint Maarteners,
Good Afternoon,
And happy Emancipation Day. I say happy because today we celebrate a triumph of freedom, symbolizing an end of an unpleasant and the beginning of a new promising chapter in our history. 
Since 2012, I have talked to you on various topics for Emancipation Day. Today, drawing from the day’s theme, I am pleased to continue my Emancipation Day talk with you on the topic: Remember Emancipation, When, Where and Why?

In answering the three Ws I can be short:
When : July 1st, 1863 and now
Where : At Diamond Estate and throughout the land.
And Why : For their and Our Freedom
But that does not do justice to the significance of Emancipation Day.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,
In remembering when, I stated in my 2012 Emancipation Day address, that today is one of the most important days in our history, because the July 1st, 1863 Emancipation Day:
“…….. marked the triumph of the indomitable will of the enslaved men and women of Sint Maarten to be free. …..”
…. free from the brutal system of slavery based on the difference in the color of their skin.
It is therefore my hope that “………..every Emancipation Day …. will be celebrated as the day when the people of Sint Maarten officially became one people. …… because it marked the triumph of humanity on Sint Maarten ……... A triumph of humanity which must be cherished and preserved by all with the same vigor and unrelenting courage as our forefathers.”
A triumph of the humanity and emancipation of all Sint Maarteners because in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:  And I Quote “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…….”  Unquote

My fellow Sint Maarteners,
In remembering where, we are to be cognizant that the world we live in today is very different from the world of 1863. Born in the twentieth and twenty first centuries, our generation of Sint Maarteners are far removed from the world in which our forefathers, our emancipators lived. Our knowledge of their life and appreciation of their struggles and triumph for a more just society, however, should and may never be lacking thanks to their oral, written and re-enacted history passed down from generation to generation. In fact, given the prevalence of social injustices today, I believe that it is important that we must continue as a community to invest in the further deepening and broadening of the knowledge of the significance of Emancipation Day. This by honoring activities such as the diamond Hill Estate Slave Run reenactment. And what better way to ensure that we always remember where, than by building a monument at the Diamond Estate site, an emancipation monument,  as a beacon of freedom. For only through a deeper knowledge and recognition of our emancipation history and of the societal importance of Emancipation Day, will more people of all colors appreciate and celebrate this triumph of humanity.
Thus as we remember and celebrate the triumph of emancipation we must always remember that our generation of Sint Maarteners are the heirs of the benefits of that first Emancipation Day. To emphasize that I have decided to share the following thoughts with you, titled:
Because they prevailed
Ours use to be a divided community
Part enslaved and part free
Forced to endure hardship and hurt
Our emancipators stood up for their worth

They opposed barriers placed all around
Sacrificed everything to tear them down
And doing so created a pathway to freedom
Lit by a beacon on diamond hill for generations to come

Today we are here as one community
Because they prevailed for us to be free
To move forward remembering, building on their legacy
Each of us free, being the best we can be

My fellow Sint Maarteners,
The triumph of the first official emancipation day on July 1st, 1863 then and now stand as a beacon on diamond hill to remind us that as a people we have a moral responsibility to each other to foster a more just society. And in doing so to be the best that we can be as a nation. For that is the why of emancipation. It is the potential and legacy of emancipation passed down to us.
Today we stand here on the historic grounds of the former sentry plantation remembering and celebrating the immeasurable determination and victory of our forefathers. In doing so it is my hope that we as a people, like our forefathers, will through these hollowed grounds be encouraged and inspired to strive for a freer and better future. A future grounded (1) in an educated mentally emancipated population, (2) in the elimination of crime, (3) in better job opportunities, (4) in a healthier society, and (5) in perfecting race relations.

To do so we must be unrelenting in our actions to empower our people in keeping with the potential of emancipation. We owe this to our forefathers, ourselves, our fellow residents and future generations.
My fellow Sint Maarteners,
As we remember emancipation, when, where and why, let us chart our pathway to a brighter future lit by our enduring diamond hill beacon for freedom.
With that view to the future I, also on behalf of Marie Louise, wish you a most wonderful and memorable 153rd Emancipation Day celebration.
Thank you, God Bless you and May God Bless Sint Maarten and Protect its coast.