The Best of St. Croix
Transfer Day 2009
Transfer Day in the United States Virgin Islands celebrates the transfer of the,
then, Danish West Indies to the ownership of the United States. This act which
occurred on March 31, 1917, transferred all people and property to the United
States - landed gentry were given immediate U.S. citizenship although the
general African descended populace was not given U.S. citizenship until the
1920's. Today, the Danish aspects of our former lives are still with us in the
culture of the Virgin Islands, its architecture and in many other ways.
Americanization has been both fast and slow to take hold. To many, our future
is still a challenge.
This 92nd commemoration of Transfer Day occurred on a tropically cool Spring
day under the tent at the Lawaetz Family Museum in Little La Grange,
Frederiksted. Various traditional arts were displayed and music was provided
by the Central High School Band and the Santa Cruz Brass. We arrived, sadly,
after the Danish Ambassador to New York, Torben Getterman had already
taken the podium as well as Soren Blak, Consul General to St. Thomas.
We drove up Mahogany Road to get to the Lawaetz Museum, mahogany trees
flanking both sides of the road.
When we arrived, Mr. Robert Merwin, Chairman of St. Croix Landmarks Society and Mrs.
Rezende, President of the Friends of Denmark, were displaying a portrait for Transfer Day.
The Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty was the next
speaker welcoming all to the festivities and discussing our shared
history with the Danes who travelled to St. Croix to celebrate with us.
The next speaker was Mr. Ullmont James, Representative from the Office of the
Delegate to Congress, Dr. Donna Christensen, who could not attend. Mr. James
delivered a speech on the history of Transfer Day on behalf of the Delegate.
Mrs. Rezende announced the Lieutenant Governor, Gregory Francis
as the next speaker at the podium.
Lieutenant Governor Francis graciously greeted the guests.
After giving the good wishes of the Governor, John
deJongh, to the audience, the Lieutenant Governor
expressed his own words of welcome in his speech. Mrs.
Rezende announced the next speaker, Anne Thurland of
The St. Croix Friends of Denmark.
Our next speaker, Senator Wayne James was announced. He
was filling in for another speaker who could not attend.
Senator James spoke of our shared heritage, his research into the
facts surrounding the Fire Burn and his collections of art and antique
furniture, his trips to Denmark and friendly associations with Danes
he has known all his life and Danes he has come to know due to his
interests in our shared heritage and culture.
Senator James finished his speech and the Santa Cruz Brass began to play as
we neared the end of the ceremonies and a commencement of the luncheon.
One final speaker, from Denmark then told of her own journey back to
a place she had only heard of in Denmark. She, in her research, had
found that her great grandmother had been a slave on the island and
told what it was like putting the pieces of her family history together.
The Friends of Denmark, the organizers of the festivities, had many
information booths and sign-up areas for their various activities.
Lunch is served.
The food included these pates, some beef, some saltfish.
And, of course, cake.
In the open field, there was a performance of the representative dance of both cultures,
The Quadrille, performed by the youth of the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School.
There was a recitation of original poetry by these students of Pearl B. Larsen.
We enjoyed a re-enactment skit of 'Sarah and Addie' a comic
duo of local women, once heard in the islands, on radio.
Sarah and Addie tease the statesiders trying to capture a cultural scene on film.
And then we listened to a few 'Bro Nancy' stories, clever stories that
explain various commonplace facts or stories with a surprising twist,
usually with a moral given at the end. This one was about a cow.
The Cental High School Band listen to the story during a break.
Epiphytes in the Saman tree we saw on our way out.
An old bridge.
Tropical greenery and some thoughts to remember...
On approach, there was a demonstration by school para-professionals
protesting low pay increases, as is their right to do, being U.S. Citizens.
Seated among government officials such as Beverly
Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism, Lieutenant Govenor
Gregory Francis, Senator Wayne James, was the Danish
Ambassador to New York, Torben Getterman and Soren Blak,
Consul General to St. Thomas.
Mrs. Thurland gave her words of welcome to all attending the
event and explained her organization's focus.