And a very warm welcome to you to this King’s Day celebration in honor of the birthday of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. My wife Marie-Louise and I are pleased to see you and celebrate with you this evening. We do so in the spirit of this evening’s theme: Care Makes a Difference. I shall therefore in the next few moments share some thoughts with you on why care makes a world of difference.
Friedrich Von Hugel, an Austrian Roman Catholic Layman provided an excellent answer to that question with his statement: “Caring is the greatest thing, caring matters most”. Caring matters most because of the role it plays as the foundation of our interactions with others. That is within our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and our wider society. Caring is, in essence, the glue that holds our world’s web of people together. Care brings out the best in you and me. The more we care, the more devoted we will be to attaining our aspirations as individuals and as a society for a more perfect nation. A more stable nation build on the principles of democracy anchored through:
To care makes a world of difference
In lives, in our society in so many ways
It is rewarding, liberating, uplifting and empowering
Today, tomorrow and always
Hence our continued pursuit of a more just and sustainable society as articulated in the preamble to our Constitution, requires that we – you and I – must continue to nourish our level of care for each other and our nation.If our community is denied the nourishment it needs it will fail to flourish. A plant with insufficient water will wither and so will the spirit of our nation without our care.
Imagine what our society would be like without the dedicated and caring services of so many professionals and volunteers – such as, teachers, nurses, doctors, clergy, policemen, social workers, volunteers, environmentalists and others – who, in so many different ways, work to improve the quality of our lives. The care of these persons, or “We, the people”, is the oil that fuels our efforts and country’s progress. It is with the knowledge of and appreciation for their valued service to our community that we can look to the future with hope for the further growth of our country. And at the same time use their example to call on others for the necessary expansion of our circle of care. For to optimize our nations potential it is imperative that every one of us demonstrate how much we care for each other and for our community.
It is therefore with gratitude that we shall in a few moments stand still to highlight the contributions and achievements of a few of our brothers and sisters who, because they CARED AND MADE A DIFFERENCE, have been singled out to receive Royal Decorations. This for their prolonged outstanding service to our community. The four (4) persons are - Reverend Etton Lloyd Brissett and Dr. Pieter Jan Offringa who have each been decorated as Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau as well as Mrs. Shelly-Ann Alphonso and Mrs. Veronica Margareth Benjamin-Oliver who have each been decorated as member in the Order of Oranje Nassau. A review of the contributions of these persons to the Sint Maarten community reveals a common thread, that of caring to make a difference in the lives of others. They have made their mark in the Sint Maarten community in a variety of areas such as: ministering to the spiritual and Christian development of generations of Sint Maarteners, doctoring to the needs of our children, providing a home and care for underprivileged and abandoned children and enhancement of awareness to help prevent and/or respond to breast cancer. This brief summary does not do justice to the level of giving, devotion, community involvement and care demonstrated by these people towards making a real difference in the lives of so many in our country over a prolonged number of years. Their committed involvement in service to our country for a significant part of their lives through their care for the spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing of others is a necessary building block for a stronger, more resilient and sustainable Sint Maarten community. And as such serves as an example for all of us to become more involved, and care to make a difference in our community.
I therefore extend my appreciation to each of the 2016 recipients of Royal Decorations for their exemplary service to our community. It is an honor and special distinction to be awarded a Royal Decoration and I thus, in closing, convey my congratulations to each of the 2016 recipients individually and to their family and friends.
Thus as we continue the tradition of celebrating King’s Day with an emphasis on Care Makes A Difference, I wish you an enjoyable evening.
God Bless you, and
God Bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.
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