Message: Today marks the 2nd anniversary of our attainment of country status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a historical day in accordance with the fulfillment of the wishes of the people expressed in the referendum of 12 years ago.
While our journey started many years ago, we must not forget the hard work of our courageous leaders who were determined to obtain our current status on behalf of the people.
We are still at phase 1 of the building process, and as such much more still needs to be done to strengthen the foundation that was officially laid on October 10, 2010.
As we embrace our new status we must be steadfast in identifying our path forward.
In the preamble of the constitution it states and I quote:
"We, the people of St. Maarten, confirm that we recognize the guiding principles of God as the core of our values ...."
Yet I question why our Parliamentary sessions start with a moment of silence instead of a prayer to this same Almighty God;
We must remember that prayer and worship are fundamentally a mainstay of our cultural heritage.
It further states that:
"Being Determined to work together with our partners in the Kingdom, our French brothers and sisters, as well as all peoples of the world on the basis of freedom, equality, peaceful coexistence, and international solidarity;"
We must take charge of securing our assets within this Kingdom, and strive to utilize all means available to build the capacity of our St. Maarten people in order to move towards true autonomy, while working together with our Kingdom partners for the benefit of St. Maarten.
In terms of working together with our Countrymen to the North, Much more must be done to cement the cooperation between the governments of the Northern and Southern parts of our island, so that we can truly unite as one people.
We must Unite in our efforts to promote tourism, preserve our tangible and intangible cultural heritage, provide quality health care, social services, education and sports for all, meet the needs of our youth, promote the family as the core unit of our society, preserve and protect our environment - natural reserves, our waters, our flora and fauna.
This cannot just happen at governmental levels, but at the level of the people, the people who are St. Maarten. Yet, we as the government of the people must and are putting policies in place to meet the needs of these same people, and must execute them to the benefit of our people of St. Maarten.
Our constitution further declares that we are a people that believe in the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of separation of powers, the dignity and value of the individual, and the entitlement of ALL individuals to the fundamental rights and freedoms of people throughout the world.
In this regard, we are indeed still in the infancy stages of our development - we still struggle to provide quality education for all, we do not have all facilities in place to preserve the dignity and value of our special persons, our elderly, and the poor.
We have much to do to meet our responsibilities in this regard.
The Theme 'Building a Nation of Courageous and Determined people' is directly derived from the aforementioned constitutional quote. St. Maarteners have proven time and again that we have the courage and determination to continue our way of life regardless of the obstacles that we may have faced and will certainly face. Through tough economic times, natural disasters and new influences we have stayed steadfast and prevailed.
The definition of Courage is: to not be deterred by danger or pain; to be brave.
The definition of determination is : Firmness of purpose; resoluteness.
It is with a mindset of COURAGE and DETERMINATION that I pledge to work to move St. Maarten forward.
We must move forward as a people in defining who a St. Maartener is.
We must move forward as a people in establishing what our national anthem is.
We must move forward in building our pride in this country we call St. Maarten.
We must move forward in declaring this day the tenth day of October a National Holiday.
We must educate our St. Maarten people about our constitution and our country.
We must move forward in building a courageous and determined people who will work hard together to achieve the goals set forth in our constitution and continue to build a strong and resilient St. Maarten.
I am St. Maarten, You are St. Maarten, WE are ST. MAARTEN, our students and other countrymen and women abroad are St. Maarten, our ancestors in their graves are St. Maarten.
As we move into our third year, with new powers and responsibilities as a country, I pray that WE, who are St. Maarten, can pledge to do all we can, individually and collectively to fulfill our dreams for St. Maarten; build a legacy our young St. Maarteners will be proud to inherit;
where all of us, as St. Maarteners can enjoy all the rights as have been set forth in our constitution.
May God bless this nation called St. Maarten!