On Monday, May 4, Saba observed Memorial Day and commemorated 75 years of freedom after the May 5, 1945 liberation marking the end of World War II.
The day started with a special initiative of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) that consisted of eight simultaneous, separate Zoom sessions at 8:00am with the participation of 44 persons, including 10 members of the Student Council, 10 homeroom teachers/mentors, 10 teachers and 10 stakeholders. The stakeholders included persons and organizations in St. Maarten and St. Eustatius, representatives of the Public Entity Saba, UNICEF Netherlands, Youth and Family and the ministries in The Hague.
During the Zoom sessions, participants reflected on the importance of freedom in the broadest sense of the word, the freedom of religion, gender freedom, freedom of sexual inclination, World War II and children’s rights. Prior to the Zoom sessions, some 75 breakfast boxes were delivered at the homes of the participants on Saba so everyone could enjoy a breakfast with their family on this memorable occasion.
The idea to commemorate 75 years of freedom at the school was discussed when Chairperson of the National May 4 and 5 Committee Gerdi Verbeet visited Saba last year, explained SCS Director Anton Hermans. The original plan was to have students visit people at home and to have breakfast together. Due to the lock-down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it was no longer possible to have a physical encounter on May 4, so a digital alternative was planned.
After the Zoom sessions, the participating students, their mentors and the rest of the class reviewed the event and talked about freedom during their daily homeroom session. SCS also delivered cookies at The Home as an expression of gratitude to the elderly residents.
At 2:00pm the same day, the annual memorial event took place at the war monument in The Bottom for the victims of WWII. On the monument are the names of 129 persons of the Netherlands Antilles, including 11 Sabans, who perished during the 1940-1945 war. The majority of the Antillean victims were seafarers who worked on oil tankers.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and student Billie-Jean Rodrigues-Lopez laid a wreath at the monument in the presence of Island Secretary Tim Muller, SCS teacher Peter Johnson. Rodrigues-Lopez created her own wreath from natural materials that she encountered during walks. Two minutes of silence were observed in honor of the fallen.