MP Leona Marlin-Romeo congratulates Organizers of Curacao Flag Day for job well done. Says lessons to be learned 

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin-Romeo and First Vice President Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo was one of the country’s parliamentarians who attended Curacao Flag Day activities on behalf of the Parliament of Sint Maarten.

“It was an honour to have had the opportunity to witness the celebration of Curacao’s Flag Day, “Dia di Bandera”. The planning of the event was flawless. Let me take this opportunity to extend congratulations to the organizers and the people of Curacao on a job well done in organizing and promoting their flag.

“A true sense of patriotism, nationalism and traditional culture were all well displayed. The impressive love for one’s country was shown and gave me “goose bumps” but with the same thought, I couldn’t help but compare and question key areas of promoting patriotism, nationalism and traditional culture on Sint Maarten.

“From what I witnessed there are key areas that we should learn from our sister island, as we continue to build our ‘Country within the Kingdom’.  I am told that the love for Curacao did not begin yesterday; they started over 20 years ago teaching and guiding their people to being a “Yu Korsou”.  I am reminded of a statement made in Jamaica by an official “to be Jamaican is an experience”. Can we truly say this in Sint Maarten?

“This Member of Parliament will be asking Parliament to simply play the Sint Maarten song before broadcasting, and reintroduce the debate on selecting an Anthem. The reality of the situation is, we have none.

“The promotion of patriotism, nationalism and culture should be introduced in our school curriculum, and I will present to Parliament the work of Priscilla Bell and Daryl Chandler entitled: “I Am St. Maarten: Roots and Wings”. This project encompasses exactly what is needed in our primary schools and will be key in promoting patriotism, national pride and our culture.

“The two most valuable things we can give our children are roots and wings (author unknown). This program takes its time in immersing its youngest citizens in what it means to belong to St. Maarten and ultimately the pride of knowing that they are each a significant component of this country.

“Whether born here or born to be here, every child learns the basics of being an Ambassador of St. Maarten.  It is impossible to love your country if you are mentally estranged from it.  If it is “only where you live”, you can never truly call it home.  Home is after all, where the heart lives and thrives.

“The program is designed to be interactive allowing students to walk, feel, taste the “heart” St. Maarten.  Being St. Maarten is more than just an experience; it is who we are, it is what we do, it is the ‘why’.  The “why” is the secret ingredient.  Christmas is a one-day event that brings family and friends together, with euphoria that lingers for 12 days.

“Carnival is a cultural event that brings people together for a few weeks.  I am St. Maarten: Roots & Wings is a first step in bringing our Country together in 6-8 week increments. The rest is up to the Minister, the Department of Culture and the community at large.

“The lessons learned in Curacao merely showed that we have to start somewhere, and each year expand on what we have. Everyone should have love for this great place called Sint Maarten.

“In conclusion it must be made known that this member of Parliament is not implying that we have nothing, and that our Cultural Manifestation events and activities are without merit, what I am stating is that there are still some essential areas that need developing.

“Perhaps the I Am St. Maarten: Roots and Wings project is the answer to one area, and in years to come it will bear the fruit of a nation filled with national pride. I am grateful for the “Dia di Bandera” experience and look forward in speaking to both Parliament and the responsible Minister about this project. Not excluding the status of the National Development Plan which is a key component to our nation building,” MP Leona Marlin-Romeo said on Sunday.