Opinion: National anthem

POSTED: 10/13/11 12:25 PM

We put the question out there already, and we hear from many people the same reaction: what is wrong with O Sweet St. Maarten Land? Do we really need a new national anthem? And do we really have to pay somebody ten grand for composing it?
If we didn’t know better, we’d suspect that the competition with the $10,000 award is a scheme to channel some tax payer money into friendly hands. After all, this is the Friendly Island.
Let’s fast forward to November 3. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix will come visiting that day. What is the appropriate tune to welcome Her Majesty? O Sweet St. Maarten Land or the Wilhelmus?
We didn’t ask the question from our Dutch representative, but we suspect that – though the Queen may also be exposed to our local tune, that the Wilhelmus will get the upper hand.
Is there something against wanting our own national anthem? Not really. The thing is, we have one that will do (though there are plenty of people ready to argue that point as well), and the 10 Grand culture Minister Arrindell wants to spend on it could be used for more practical and useful purposes.
We thought about an adaptation of the almost forgotten children’s tune There is a hole in my bucket:
There’s a hole in the budget, dear Sarah, dear Sarah,
There’s a hole in the budget, dear Sarah, a hole.
Then fix it, dear Hiro, dear Hiro, dear Hiro,
Then fix it, dear Hiro, dear Hiro, fix it.

This song goes on like forever and, in a way, it paints a perfect picture of local customs and traditions. The lyrics might inspire the people, but we doubt that they tickle the fancy of the national anthem jury – whoever that may be.

So then, back to O Sweet St. Maarten Land? Why not? It’s there, it costs nothing and most people know the tune.
Critics who thought that St. Maarten cannot have a national anthem because it is not an independent country are dead wrong by the way. St. Peters could have its own anthem; Cole Bay could compose one and therefore, so can St. Maarten.

As a unifying factor, something that holds a society together, national anthems are strong. This appears for instance at sports events, for instance soccer matches between national teams. The cold blooded Dutch players don’t have a lot with their Wilhelmus –and according to Wikipedia this is the oldest national anthem in the world (honestly, we doubt the accuracy of this statement). But look at for instance the Italians, the Spanish, or the Greeks. Boy, they have that national anthem down to a tee and they live it.
Before we reach that stage in St. Maarten, even with O Sweet St. Maarten land, we still have a long way to go. This is also because we lack sport heroes that appeal to the imagination of all people living on the island.
So for a national anthem to flourish, to take root in the hearts of the people, the government must also make sure that there are exciting events where it can be sung by hundreds, and possibly thousands of people. Maybe we ought to fix the Raoul Illidge Sports complex first – that looks like a good project to spend those $10,000 on.

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