This St. Maarten/St. Martin Day we have truly challenged ourselves in no small way, if it is our intention to give credence to the theme we have chosen to celebrate this historic day. A look back indeed suggests that it is with this in mind that this day was proclaimed several decades ago.
Every year we condemn ourselves for not having brought about a renewed commitment and passion to celebrate our oneness as St. Maarten/St. Martin, although one could justifiably argue that the times have gotten more complex, more technical and more challenging to keep together that feeling of togetherness which has been nurtured over centuries.
To answer that, we have to ask ourselves: Do we have one island? Geographically, most certainly.
It is an interesting thought to consider what was the strength of our island that conserved our oneness, even when battles were fought for dominion over the 37 square miles of land; we call "our land".
What prevented borders from being erected and armies from being galvanized?
We see in many places of the world, where borders have been erected and torn down, separating and uniting people.
Was it the partition treaty that protected the oneness and openness of our land for all its inhabitants?
The anecdotal account of the division of the island is just that, an anecdote. The truth behind the division was purely one of commercial considerations.
Our "one "island has endured much and at the end of many bitter wars, ended up in the administrative division we know today.
Our fate could have been one of many. Had the Spanish troops persisted, we could have been Spanish, just to mention one. Yet at a point in history, the fighting stopped and the people of this land of ours lived in peace and relative harmony since.
For many, many years, we have given content to the one-island mantra. There were even years, we forgot or brushed aside the administrative division of the island.
Times have changed, our society became more complex and hordes of outsiders came to our shores, making this land their home as well.
The differences in our political status became more and more evident. One thing was clear, the people of this island even under 2 distinct administrative systems, have always cherished the oneness we share.
This oneness, like a big family has had its ups and downs, its tensions, its sparring.
Over the past months, technocrats across ministries have come together to establish a working program for areas of functional cooperation. With the status of country, this has become easier to accomplish, although the difference in terms of administrative powers and authorities between the two sides remains evident.
It is clear that one island is precisely that, one people is something we have to all work hard at maintaining and one destiny is a choice we all to make. Let this St. Maarten/St. Martin Day be in that light, thankful for our homeland and all it offers to so many, one people by the actions of the very same people and one destiny as a conscious choice of the people.
Let this St. Maarten/St. Martin Day 2011 therefore be one of the people in gratitude for what we are and what we can become in the spirit of One Island, One People, One Destiny.
God Bless and Protect our Nation
Happy St. Maarten/St. Martin Day