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Our Spirit of Progress, of Moving Beyond Duty

St. Martin  Day Address

His Excellency, The Governor of Sint Maarten,
drs. Eugene B. Holiday

November 11, 2021

My fellow St. Martiners,
Marie-Louise and I bid you warm greetings and wish you and yours a most enjoyable St. Martin Day.
St. Martin Day is a day to celebrate our St. Martin heritage of unity and friendship, to celebrate all things St. Martin, our past, our present and our aspirations to always progress. It is therefore my pleasure to speak to you on our St. Martin Day.
Considering the day’s theme: “We Stand Triumphant in the Face of Adversity”, I have decided to focus my message on our motto: always progressing. Always progressing expresses the aspirational spirit of we the people of St. Martin. It expresses our belief in our ability to always create opportunities to advance our quality of life; this is through social, economic, and political progress.  A belief shaped by our long history of and experiences with struggle and triumph. 
My fellow St. Martiners,
As a people we have had our share of adversity and challenges. During the past quarter of a century our social and economic development have been adversely impacted by various external shocks, such as, the 911 terrorists attacks on the US in 2001 and hurricanes Luis in 1995, Lenny in 1999, and Irma in 2017. It has regrettably also been affected by internal shocks, such as, recurrent political discord. While time does not permit me to expand on these experiences it suffices to say that we have been knocked down and that we have, at times, even shot ourselves in the foot. 
During our challenges there have been those who doubted us and those who even wrote us off. But we have never given up on us. Instead we have constantly transformed and renewed our community.
In response to hurricanes we built back our homes stronger. In 1996 we started transforming our electrical and telecom grid by placing most of our cables underground. To boost our economy, we built a new cruise and cargo facility in 2001. To further solidify our stayover tourism, we built a modern and upgraded air traffic control system in 2003. And in 2006 we constructed expanded state of the art airport facilities. In 2010 we achieved country status through political unity. And since 2017 we have been laying fiber optic cable in the ground to meet the demands of the digital economy.
Since March 2020, we are however experiencing an unprecedented health, socio-economic, and financial crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This while still recovering from the impact of hurricane Irma.

In addressing our current challenges, we must do so with a sense of realism and practical idealism. Things are difficult. Far too many of our brothers and sisters have lost their lives to or suffer from COVID-19. Many businesses are financially strapped. Many families continue to struggle due to loss of jobs and/or a reduction in income.  And government remains cash strapped.
We must however not allow pessimism to undermine our ability to recover. Under no circumstance should we allow our difficulties of today to crowd out our spirit of progress towards a better tomorrow.
In confronting the realities of the current crisis, we can or rather, we must instead draw inspiration from our positive experiences with previous challenges. Experiences which have always been characterized by renewal.
My fellow St. Martiners,
It is particularly important to note that renewal does not mean that we must write off the things that made us who and what we are as a people and community. The new reality we face today, in fact, demands that we must:
- restore the best of that which we had,
- preserve the best of that which we have, and
- strengthen them to create a better more sustainable future.
It means that we must protect and preserve our environment, our culture, our characteristics, and our values, which have helped to shape our spirit of progress. I am as such proud of and applaud our frontliners, our doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, other frontline employees, and volunteers, who throughout this crisis has exemplified the best of the St. Martin spirit.
My fellow St. Martiners,
To triumph in the face of this health, socio-economic, and financial crisis we must therefore activate our spirit of progress. That is, we must move beyond the call of duty.
Anchored on our family centered, community oriented, hardworking, creative, independent, and hospitable nature and our love for freedom, our spirit of progress has always helped to create the conditions for the us to triumph in the face of adversity. It has helped to build social capital, to strengthen human capital, and to grow the economic capital necessary to address the needs of and create opportunity for our people.
Our spirit of progress has always propelled our people forward. Thus, as we look to the future on this St. Martin Day, I am confident that we have the courage and resolve to move beyond duty to triumph and rebuild, transform, and renew our island.

My Fellow St. Martiners,
It is in that spirit of progress, of moving beyond duty, that Marie Louise and I wish you a Safe and Happy St. Martin Day Celebration.
Stay safe,
Thank you,
God Bless you and
May God Bless St. Martin and protect its coast.


St. Martin is used here to represents the entire island Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.