Reader’s Opinion: Foreign national holidays

POSTED: 02/4/13 2:38 PM

Upon invitation by the Indian Merchants Association (IMA), on Thursday, January 29 last, Mr. Albert Adam (‘Jesse’) and myself attended the celebration of the Indian Republic Day.

This event is commemorated every year on January 26.

This time around again, it was a very well organized, delightful, inspiring and eye-opening experience for us as leaders of the St. Martin grassroots people movement.

Not that it was our first time – it certainly was not.

For a number of years, we have had the privilege to be invited to attend this very important event for all Indians around the world.

In particular, my good friend, soul-brother and our adopted fellow St. Martiner of Indian heritage, Mr. Damu Rawtani, always has made it his business, on numerous occasions to remind us to attend.

Over a great number of years the friendship between Damu and myself has become very close.

As such, Damu has always been very frank with me; agreeing where possible and leaving space to work toward finding common grounds on other issues.

However, from day one, Damu has shown great interest and support for our efforts to preserve our St. Martin heritage, along with including others with an added value as part of a bigger picture – the St. Martin nation building process.

Based on our friendship and mutual respect, over the years, Damu has become a key-figure in forging a growing mutual understanding and respect between the Indian community living on this island and the grassroots St. Martiner people of heritage.

It is a very important process that continues to evolve and to mature.

In addition, this process is setting the tone and example for the relationships between other immigrant -groups with the host-population of this country – the St. Martiners of heritage.

It is in the context of this relationship with the IMA, that we as representatives of the grassroots people of this island, would like to add even more content and significance to the celebration of all future Indian Republic Day and to the national holidays of all other nationals living on our island.

In fact, it is in keeping with a very important statement made with pride, during the celebration on Thursday.

The statement boils down to the following.

India is a great democracy – the largest in the world as a matter of fact.

The country is vast in size and is made up of hundreds of languages/dialects, religions and other great differences.

However, there is something very powerful that keeps all of that diversity together.

In simple terms, it can be described as is the feeling and acceptance of all who make up the Indian Republic as the Indian identity – being an Indian.

In fact, as a St. Martin grassroots movement, we feel the same as it relates to our island-nation.

Regardless of religion, race , creed, political persuasion, or place of birth, all those who call themselves St. Martiners along with our grassroots St. Martin people, should also pledge their first allegiance towards St. Martin, the St. Martin people and their cultural-heritage.

After all, regardless, one’s place of origin, once ‘born here’, living here it should be the St. Martin nation that is built here and none other.

Towards that end, perhaps it should be considered by all foreign nationals or naturalized citizens, who are making a living on this island, to meaningfully include in the celebrations of their national holidays on St. Martin (North- and South) grassroots St. Martin cultural elements, and grassroots St. Martin cultural artists.

Better yet, as proof of being a new St. Martiner, while respecting/maintaining their particular cultural heritage, all youngsters should be educated in our local, indigenous St. Martin history, culture, norms and values as well and they should exhibit knowledge of these, during all national holidays.

This would even go beyond playing the so-called St. Martin national song as respect to the island.

I hope this proposal would be seen for how it is meant.

As a unique example and opportunity for us all to work towards the St. Martin nation building process, from various cultural, national and other types of backgrounds.

Again, it is based on a very impressive learning experience, we took away from our Indian brothers and sisters during the celebration of their great, impressive Republic of India.

May God bless St. Martin for taking care of so many people and making them feel at home.

And may God, touch others to realize and respect St. Martiners for being so accepting and inclusive.

Leopold James

President of the grassroots St. Martin people’s movement


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