CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS–For the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba could come together on Memorial Day, Wednesday, May 4, to remember the victims of World War II and of other conflicts and peace operations. “All the people we commemorate today have a different story, but the freedom they lost is what unites them,” said Kingdom Representative in the Caribbean Netherlands Jan Helmond during the Memorial Day ceremony in Bonaire.
Every year, the Netherlands National May 4 and May 5 Committee chooses a theme by which it wants to connect historical events with current events worldwide. This year’s theme is “Freedom in Solidarity”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the limitations it brought with it, made us realise how important it is to be in touch with each other, to be connected with each other, because only the solidarity with each other made it possible for us to fight the crisis,” Helmond said.
He said that “freedom” has a different meaning in these times during the war in Ukraine.
“The human suffering is great and it gives us a feeling of powerlessness, but also of solidarity. We feel a close bond with the people who suffer from all this senseless violence. The world is sometimes dark and frightening, and it is then that we need to connect with other people – “a connection without fear or anxiety, a connection where we can let our voices be heard; a connection where there is room for difference, where diversity is not an obstacle but offers expansion and connection, where people are not judged on their origin, colour, religion, orientation or because they have a different opinion, but where they are valued because it makes the community more beautiful. Let love rule, not hate,” Helmond said.
Citing Nelson Mandela, he said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Helmond said that also in Bonaire, Statia and Saba “large and unacceptable differences” reinforce division among the people. “Fortunately, on our islands we can express these feelings of discontent in the freedom and space that is appropriate – something we should never take for granted.”
With an eye on next year’s Island Council elections, he said that political leaders will be allowed to freely disagree with each other on all matters that concern them and their communities.
“I hope that they will do this with all keenness to the content of the discussion, but with the corresponding respect to the people who have a different opinion. I express thereby the hope that they will unite people and overcome differences. This is in the interest of all the people who live here, regardless of their opinion, colour, origin, orientation and political opinion. … After all, we are connected because we live, work and play together on our beautiful island.”
According to Helmond, there will always be differences of opinion.
“Let us discuss these with each other, above all because of our solidarity, so that there is room to look for solutions together. Today, [May 4 – Ed.], we remember together all those who have given their lives in war or conflict situations. Let us realise that we must continue to work together for peace and freedom for everyone. Let us be there for each other, especially in these times, when we realise that peace and freedom can never be taken for granted. Let us remember together in solidarity, each with his own memories and thoughts.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/dutch-kingdom-representative-connects-freedom-with-solidarity