Claude Wathey commemoration: Everybody on the same page againPOSTED: 07/27/15 7:29 PM
Family members and representatives of DP and UP gather for a group picture together with Minister Claret Connor. Photo Today / Leo Brown
St. Maarten – After the awkward split in the election year 2014, when the Democratic Party and the United People’s party organized separate wreath laying ceremonies to commemorate the birth date of the late Dr. Claude Wathey, this year everybody was on the same page again for the commemoration of the ol’ man’s 89th birth date.
At 9 a.m. a small but dedicated gathering assembled in front of the Government Administration building near the Wathey-statue to pay tribute to the man who made an indelible mark on the country’s design.
Erno Labega acted as the master of ceremonies, though he also laid a wreath together with MP Sarah Wescot-Williams on behalf of the Democratic Party.
The first ones to lay a wreath were Claude’s eldest son Al together with Robert Budike and Michaela Hodge on behalf of the University of St. Martin.
After the DP, it was the turn of the UP, where Gina Illidge and party president Sylvia Meyers did the honors.
Ariana Rivers and Melony Wathey, two grandchildren of the ol’ man were next. Valerie Giterson-Pantophlet laid a wreath on behalf of the Dr. Claude Wathey Political Awareness Foundation.
Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Claret Connor laid the last wreath, this one on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
MP Wescot-Williams and Minister Connor briefly addressed the gathering.
“There will come a time when none of us present at this ceremony will have had the honor of having known Dr. Wathey personally,” Wescot-Williams said. “But this ceremony serves to remind us that he left an indelible mark on St. Maarten.”
Minister Connor congratulated Wathey’s family members and the Democratic Party and noted that, when he was a boy, his father often engaged him in private conversations about Dr. Wathey. “I look forward to many more commemorations in the future,” he said.
The Wathey-commemoration took place for the first time thirteen years ago and it has always been an event organized by the Democratic Party. Until last year, when the UP organized a wreath laying of its own later in the day.
Al Wathey, Claude’s eldest son, severely criticized the DP-leadership last year. “I am very, very pleased to stand here today with just the UP party. For years I have stood right here side by side with all of the hypocrites from the Democratic Party. Standing there watching them supposedly honor Claude Wathey, a man that they have thrown aside and only dragged out like a rag doll during election time.”
Wathey said his father was a “man who built the Democratic Party into the most powerful, proudest party ever in the history of our island, a feat that is soon going to be replaced by the UP party, for sure.”
Those remarks fit within the context of the election year. This time, everybody united again peacefully behind the ol’ man’s legacy.