When a Former President Visits, It’s a Big Deal

Several students from Gifft Hill School met former President Bill Clint in Cruz Bay Monday afternoon.
Several students from Gifft Hill School met former President Bill Clinton in Cruz Bay Monday afternoon.

Former President Bill Clinton visited St. John yesterday. And you know what? It was a pretty big deal to me and to a lot of people who live here on St. John. Love him or hate him, love or hate his wife, Democrat, Republican or Liberal… It honestly doesn’t matter in my opinion. Having a former president visit a tiny, 20-square-mile island in the middle of the Caribbean is a big deal. Especially when it’s an island that was hit by not one, but two catastrophic hurricanes just five months ago…

I finished up an island tour yesterday afternoon and immediately walked over to Quiet Mon, so I could catch a glimpse of Mr. Clinton after he concluded a meeting across the street at JESS School. It was super exciting to see a former president walk out of our partially hurricane-ravaged school and hop into a nearby car. He waved to us all as he passed by, and we jokingly yelled over the balcony, inviting him up to have a beer with us. Needless to say, he didn’t join us. But it would have been so cool if he did!! 🙂

A few minutes later, I wandered over to High Tide to take some pics for this morning’s story. As I was sitting at the bar, I noticed a commotion at the ferry dock. I walked over and saw Mr. Clinton greeting locals and tourists alike, shaking hands and snapping pics with several. It was such a lovely moment of hope.

And then social media came into play….

I snapped a photo of Mr. Clinton as he drove past Quiet Mon and posted it to News of St. John’s Facebook page. Knowing that I have readers of all backgrounds and with varying political viewpoints, I asked that people be kind and refrain from political talk. It’s like what many of our parents taught us – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Well sadly, many people chose not to listen.

Almost immediately, I saw so much online hate going back and forth on News of St. John’s Facebook page, as well as several other St. John-related pages, I was pretty disheartened.

The Facebook post wasn’t about Bill Clinton as a person. It wasn’t about Hilary Clinton. It wasn’t about President Trump. It wasn’t about the Clintons’ relationship with Haiti. It wasn’t about Mr. Clinton’s friends or associates. It was about the fact that a living president decided to come to our aid. It was about how he donated four shipping containers filled with supplies to our hospital on St. Thomas. It was about how he took the time to hold a roundtable meeting with several members of our community. It was about a man who came here with the sole intention of helping us.

(Click here to read the St. John Tradewind’s full article on the roundtable meeting.)

Back on September 7th, so many people pleaded for help on our behalves after learning about Irma’s destruction. Yet five months later, some of those same people denounced a man who wanted to help. It was truly unfortunate.

I honestly do not know the purpose of this post other than to say that the hate really saddened me. It’s sad that I found it easier to simply delete the post, rather than have to babysit the comments section to ensure that hate did not occur on my watch.

St. John is nicknamed Love City, yet I didn’t see a lot of love yesterday. If you are reading this site or following us on Facebook, it means that we all have one thing in common – we all love St. John. So let’s please put all of our differences aside and continue to keep the love in Love City.

22 thoughts on “When a Former President Visits, It’s a Big Deal”

  1. Thank you for expressing your thoughts on this matter so elequantly ,there is more then enough negative vibes coming thru the big guys news and others .a lot of times I see these tragedys as opportunity for us to really shine bright .what you folks endured there on the islands would be enough to send most folks packing .but all I have heard about is the love and concern you guys have demonstrated to each other while you had very little help from outside .logistically even with money it is difficult to organize a swift recovery . I will be down there in March and I hope I can meet up with you folks and say thank you for making a place for us vacationers to have a little paradise to go to

  2. Hi Jenn. I completely agree with you. It’s pretty sad that everyone has to get up in arms over that when it had absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with helping the island recover. Unfortunately, the current administration has done a very good job of dividing the country instead of trying to bring everyone together to make a real push for change. Lord knows we, as a country, could sure use it. I am glad that he came, and I am glad that there was no ill-will shown towards him while he was there. Be well Jenn and keep up the great work.

    • Gary, Gary, Gary…….. You just had to make a reference to the current administration which is EXACTLY the opposite of what was intended for the post. Positive comments are what we need Gary. Doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is or what you think of the current administration, try to illustrate the positive instead of the negative – you’ll fell better.

      • Dirk, Dirk, Dirk, you’re right right right! Restraint and discipline is sometimes hard to come by, but preserving paradise requires just that. Virgin Islanders can’t even vote for president and I suspect that office is mostly symbolic to the folks who live there. To Jenn’s point and purpose, the “king” came, waved a hand, brought smiles and reinforced hope. If Beelzebub himself dropped in for that purpose, I’d be OK with it!

      • Thanks Dirk,
        There are plenty of people who lean both to the right and to the left of the political spectrum that live on, and visit the islands. Those dollars in the cash registers don’t have a political affiation. Those dollars help the islands regardless of political views.
        Gary, you have a solid point. Maybe leave out the politics next time

        • My apologies guys. You are absolutely right. Should have left the negativity out of it. It was more my point to say, as you all have, that it doesn’t matter who it is so long as it helps the island of St. John. Truly my favorite place in the world.

  3. It’s so sad that you had to take down your Facebook post. If any former president, no matter which party he’s from shows the time and interest in the situation in our wonderful Love City, then we all owe him the respect to say “Thank You” or keep our negative thoughts to ourselves.
    Thank YOU, Jenn for everything you do for all of us every day!

  4. Well said and I agree 100% but as I have been told when having a similar experience this is the risk you take when posting opinions publicly. You can ask all you want for naysayers to stay away but they cite freedom of speech for their lack of self control. I don’t understand why the people who feel the need to be so negative can’t just pass on by, just every now and then keep it to themselves.

  5. There is only room for love. The old rules of not talking about politics, religion and sex publicly should be applied to social media. Let’s focus on our common goals and the love that we all have for St John, our brothers and sisters affected by the tragedy and what we can do to help.

    If you think negative and speak negative, then you are 10x’s more likely to have a negative out come. Not saying that you have to be a cheer leader all of the time, but if you can focus on the positive and express positive then it will lead to better outcomes.

  6. Well said Jen, Unfortunately social media is full of negative and hate it’s getting ridiculous, I think it’s because people feel so empowered that they can say what they want to say because they don’t have to face the consequences of their words like you would if you have said them face to face. I can’t wait for my visit next year to get away from it all.!!!

  7. Your words really touched me. I had the same gut reaction to all the hatred spewed the other day. I don’t live on St. John, but I care so deeply about this beautiful island and it’s people who graciously host me when I visit. Thanks for voicing so eloquently what is in my mind and heart.

  8. Well said, Jenn. Our organization, Love City Strong, was invited to attend the private meeting with President Clinton along with members from Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City, the Coral Bay Community Council, St. John Community Foundation, JESS, VITEMA, and several other local government officials. As a newer non-profit, it was an honor and a privilege to have someone with such vast resources and exposure even invite us to the table. It also demonstrates that, like so many other “non-islanders” who have come to help, the former President truly want to hear what locals have to say. Thanks for your impartial and practical take on this.

  9. Well said, no matter what your political views are, to have a President visit and donate says ALOT. Thinking of all of you on the island daily; hoping each day gets better and better!

  10. Thanks, Jenn, for sharing and caring. I agree with your stance on the haters, and am sorry your well-intentioned post became a political football. We appreciate you, your kindness and communications. I am so looking forward to my upcoming visit to STJ.

  11. Anytime a former President of the United States takes the time from his (or hopefully some day, her) schedule to travel a long distance to be someplace it is a special honor for that place. We need more folks of stature to visit our ravaged islands and bring attention to the needs of the Americans who live there.

  12. There’s never been an American President who more disgraced himself, his family and his country. Next time he visits the area let’s hope he goes elsewhere. We should not be celebrating such a person.

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