Greetings and happy Sint Maarten Day to all those who call Sint Maarten home and to our brothers and sisters in the diaspora. My fellow citizens, Sint Maarten Day is an opportunity for us to promote unity, social harmony, and empowerment of our people.
As we celebrate this momentous day, it should not just be a day to eat and drink and make merry, but should also be a day to reflect and remember those who are no longer here but who have made significant contributions to our island and to us. Today we must reflect on where we are as an island, where we were, and where we want to be.
This is the first Sint Maarten Day we have officially adopted “the St. Martin Unity Flag” on both sides of the island in a show of unity and I believe this unity must continue in many other areas. We are one people, two nations but one island. Many of us have families on both sides of the island, and when one side of the island is affected, the other feels it. As I have said before, hurricanes do not stop at the border, and they do not discriminate between French and Dutch, so why should we?
Sint Maarten is easily one of the most beautiful and blessed islands in the world, and we as a people must think about how we make this jewel better. To quote John F. Kennedy, “ask not what my country can do for me but what can I do for my country.” Let us reflect on the kind of country we want to build and what part we can each play in making it better. Unity of both sides must never become just an idea or a one-day event. We need to extend unity to all aspects, including sports and education, and this is something into which we are currently looking. We have great sports people on both sides of the island, and working together, we can produce great sports teams to represent the entire island on the world stage.
With regard to education, there must also be more unity. On an island where we have both French and Dutch spoken and taught in schools, we should have educational exchanges where students on each side can attend Dutch and French lessons, respectively, making them more formidable when they enter the world of work. There are many benefits to both sides working closely as one, and this can only prove good for the people of this Island. Over the years, we have made significant strides in this direction, but we recognize that we can and must do much more. I acknowledge that we are facing challenging times brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. These are challenges we must face together as an island in unity. Unity equals proper growth and true development for all and will provide motivation and make for greater accomplishments.
While we focus on these things, we should not lose sight of the accomplishments we have made over the years in digital infrastructure and technology, in establishing ourselves on the world stage as a player in the tourism industry, and so much more. Today above all, we should all feel a sense of pride to belong to this island and to be celebrating another Sint Maarten Day. I urge you to reflect on what kind of future you want for yourselves and your island and how we can all work together to achieve it. Happy Sint Maarten Day to all.
Rodolphe E. Samuel
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport