PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Fellow citizens of St. Maarten, as an elected official of this country, I take this opportunity to address you during this festive season. I do hope that you have all had an enjoyable Christmas. As we approach the end of 2021 and prepare to welcome 2022, I believe that this is a good time to reflect on the year behind us while we look forward to the year to come.
Most of us will make our traditional new years resolutions in hope for improved health, a better income, closer family ties and a happy life. These resolutions can materialize only if we genuinely dedicate the necessary time and effort to make some, if not all, of them a reality.
2021 has been a challenging year for all of us. We have had to deal with the worldwide pandemic that has affected us in so many different ways; socially, economically, medically, educationally and even mentally. Some of us have suffered loss of loved ones, income and freedom, while dealing with other social and political issues.
We can choose to linger on the challenges and setbacks we’ve had, or we can count our blessings. For instance, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season had a record number of storms, yet our island was spared the wrath of mother nature. Not one of the many storms hit our island. That is something we should be grateful for. We have experienced many upheavals in the political field, yet we have managed to maintain a stable government, while making some positive strides forward.
Two of our local swimming athletes, Tatiana “Taffi” Illis and Naobi “Abbi” Illis, have accomplished honors for our island on the international level. Denzel Richardson was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Dutch Baseball’s “hoofdklasse”. Like many others, I too extend my heartfelt congratulations to these ambassadors.
The percentage rate of graduating students was well above the regular average, despite the unusual conditions under which the students had to study. Many personal, political and individual plans were made for 2021 and while not all have been accomplished, as a people, we found the urge and strength to continue working towards them. No wonder we are known as the resilient people of the Caribbean.
Now, with 2022 at our doorsteps, we wonder what personal or political challenges lie ahead for us in this new year. I do not have the answer to that question, but I can assure you that if we, as a united people, bond and work together in the best interest of all, we can and will overcome our obstacles. As residents of this beautiful island, we must conduct ourselves in a sophisticated manner, with self-awareness and accountability, to make our society a civilized one and to once again be the envy of the Caribbean.
Every citizen must be proud to be a part of this community, where everyone can live knowing that they will be treated fairly and equally, without fear of political or judicial victimization. Our leaders must display the competence to regain and retain the people’s confidence. As leaders, we must provide opportunities for our people, taking their rights into consideration.
The rights to education, to a job, to food and shelter, and to safety.
My personal wish for 2022 for this country is that we all live in love and unity, safe and secure, looking out for one another. That every citizen lives to enjoy all the benefits that this country has to offer. And that the good Lord will continue to look over this island and its people, and bless us all.
On behalf of my family and I, I wish that spirit of goodwill will be with you. I wish you a healthy and wealthy 2022.