PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Prime Minister Hon. Marcel Gumbs delivered the following speech on Thursday, 13 August at the funeral of Police Officer G. Benjamin.
“Good afternoon family, in the past week, we as a country have felt anger, despair, sorrow and confusion over the untimely and tragic death of Officer Gamali Benjamin. Law enforcement, much like the fire brigade or the military, comes with the willingness to risk one’s life each and every day, in the pursuit of doing the right thing.
“Today, as we lay him to rest and begin the healing process, I am hopeful that we remember to reflect on Officer Benjamin’s character and conduct, and that we do our utmost to always do the right thing. We must do right by our children, by our partners, by our fellow countrymen and women, and by ourselves…only then do things get better. Only then will we have served Officer Benjamin as faithfully as he served us.
“I knew Officer Benjamin through brief encounters only, but in this last week I have learned about him from his family, his colleagues and even from my own daughters, who each briefly worked with him when he first decided to begin the training to become a police officer. This was not a young man who changed himself to match his circumstances; he worked, tirelessly, to change his circumstances in a manner that meant he did right by himself, his loved ones and his community, in a manner that meant he did not selfishly take from others.
“THIS is the spirit, the influence we now owe it to Officer Benjamin to embody and carry within ourselves as we move forward from today. Because we do owe it to him. I owe it to him. My wife owes it to him. My children owe it to him. Your children owe it to him. You owe it to him. Government owes it to him. Our business owners owe it to him. Our hoteliers owe it to him. Our school teachers owe it to him.
“We all owe our lives, livelihood and peace of mind to Officer Benjamin and those like him within the KPSM. As Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, pioneer of another island nation once said, “This is not a country that belongs to any single community; it belongs to all of us.” Officer Gamali Benjamin lived and breathed this sentiment; he protected, without discrimination, what belongs to all of us, and we will have failed him if we do not come together and act, now that he no longer can. I want us to remember that once we leave here today.
“To the Benjamin family…thank you, for your son. Thank you for providing the foundations for his character, his commitment, and his kindness. Thank you for sharing him with this country, and thank you for allowing us to grieve alongside you as you face this deeply personal tragedy. You too have made a sacrifice over these last days, and I promise you, it will never be forgotten or in vain.
“Officer Benjamin as we lay you to rest, know that your legacy will remain as a beacon for a country that needs one. Know that we take that beacon and hold it in our hearts, as you did, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide their feet into the path of peace. Thank you for your service, sir, and may you rest peacefully in the arms of our Lord.”