By His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday
Delivered on the Occasion of the Funeral Service of Officer Gamali Benjamin
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Good afternoon to everyone in attendance at and following this Solemn funeral Service.
To Mrs. Karena Benjamin, Keenan Benjamin, Mr. Gilbert Benjamin, the rest of the Benjamin family and colleagues of officer Gamali Kwasi Benjamin, it is with deep sadness that I stand here today to pay tribute to officer Gamali Kwasi Benjamin.
To say Marie-Louise’s and my thoughts and prayers are with you doesn’t express the sadness we feel for your loss and for the loss of our community.Our nation has lost an exceptional officer – a bright rising star – who gave his life in service of a higher calling, that of working to ensure the safety of all people on Sint Maarten.
Today we join you in mourning his loss, in remembering and in paying tribute to him, as part of the process to heal you and to heal our nation. And what better place to do so than in the solace of the church under the guidance of our Lord.
The senseless shooting on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, that resulted in the loss of his life shocked me deeply. It reached deep into the heart of our community and affected the mood of our nation. It has raised emotions resulting in an outpouring of grief, support and well wishes as well as calls for measures to ensure the safety of our officers and community. In the face of these emotions and having to come to grips with their own shock our law enforcement officers, our valued men and women in blue, have not wavered in their pursuit to bring the suspects to justice. The untimely and heartbreaking loss of Gamali Benjamin reminds us of the importance of our police officers for the protection of our way of life. Thus as we join officer Gamali Benjamin’s family in mourning his loss, I wish to express my appreciation, our nation’s appreciation, to our police officers for your service.
I have had the privilege to have met officer Benjamin before and after he joined the police force. And while I cannot profess to have known him well, I can say that in the encounters I have had with him I experienced a pleasant, friendly and correct person. A positive person who took his work seriously. Officer Benjamin’s recent distinction on Justice day for his exemplary service was testimony to his dedication to his work, his courage, his abilities and his bright rising star as a police officer. Knowing his abilities reemphasizes the magnitude of the loss of our community and at the same time reminds us of our obligation to do right to his ultimate sacrifice.
It has therefore been heartwarming to see the level of public outpouring of sympathy and support during the past week and to see so many of you here today to honor officer Gamali Benjamin. Heartwarming because it reinforces my confidence in the goodness of our people. And because it tells us that if we are to move forward it will require first and foremost our unified efforts. Yes through our unity and by recognizing that our brother’s pain is our pain I am convinced that we can and will address the challenges we face and heal our community. To reflect our unity I ask everyone to please stand and to hold hands with the person on your left and your right and repeat after me: your pain is our pain, your gain is our gain ………. Thank you.
People of Sint Maarten, we owe this to officer Benjamin. For our coming together will be the perfecting of our salute to him.
To his wife Mrs. Karena Benjamin, his son Keenan Benjamin, his father Gilbert Benjamin and other family members, although it is little consolation at this sad time, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for his selfless service, heroism and ultimate sacrifice. In Gamali Benjamin our nation has lost an exceptional officer, a bright rising star, who gave his life in service of a higher calling, that of working to ensure the safety of all people on Sint Maarten.
Marie Louise and I, hereby extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Benjamin family.
We wish you God’s grace, strength and courage during this difficult time as your mourn his loss. And we hope that you may find the strength to move forward, to heal, with the confidence in knowing that Gamali Benjamin’s life was a meaningful life, during which he touched the lives of many in our communities.
IN CLOSING I HEREBY SALUTE OFFICER GAMALI BENJAMIN!
May he Rest In Peace.
His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday