Gov. John deJongh Jr. and first lady Cecile deJongh welcomed a delegation of almost 100 from the British Virgin Islands on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront Saturday, celebrating the annual holiday commemorating the close ties between close neighbors flying different flags.
The delegation led by BVI Gov. John Duncan and Premier of the British Virgin Islands Orlando Smith was greeted by steel pan entertainment as they arrived at the St. Thomas waterfront and later walked to Emancipation Garden for a cultural fair and cultural presentations as the two territories celebrated their historic ties and joint future.
“Today we honor many years of friendship and the shared heritage that links our two great jurisdictions together. Truly we celebrate the ties that bind us,” deJongh said at the ceremony.
“Although this special holiday is just 42 years old, the relationship between our two island groups spans thousands of years. There’s no doubt that many of our families are the same and that individuals have moved back and forth between both jurisdictions for work, health care, education and family responsibilities," he said.
"In both Virgin Islands, many of our residents are direct descendants from emancipated slaves, who built their lives on agriculture, fishing and basic trades. Over the years, communities were established with schools, churches and necessary government services. Our populations have grown, along with our economies,” deJongh said.
After a breakfast at Grand Hotel, the BVI delegation was treated to a walking tour that highlighted the many ties that bind the people of the two territories: history, religion and day-to-day practices. The Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School Flambo Combo entertained at Emancipation Garden, the final stop which featured an arts and crafts and cultural fair.
“I know that our two jurisdictions have established and maintained an excellent working relationship that allows us to effectively deal with common issues, such as law enforcement, boundaries, fishing and more,” deJongh said Saturday.
“It is a mark of our special kinship that we can deal with such issues and policy decisions in a straightforward and open manner.”
The governor said he feels blessed to have been “an integral part of such a unique and special relationship.” He added that he hoped his efforts as governor have strengthened the bond between the two territories.