Reflecting on the path followed, since our forefathers first walked that long and arduous road to freedom, Emancipation Day is a historic day.
What has emerged, in the process, are a shared identity, a common heritage and a unique culture which sets us apart as St. Martiners, and which have allowed us to become a special place to live, among so many arriving here from even far away shores.
As we reflect on this significant day in the lives of all St. Martiners, may we take time out to think of the principles and attributes that caused our ancestors to fight and struggle so persistently for their freedom against an inhumane system.
These ideals must continue to shape our responses to the challenges confronting us as a young, developing country to be.
St. Maarten has gone through several stages that took us from slave territory to colony, to and island territory which is now en route to country status.
Today, more then ever, St. Martiners are the ones to help shape our culture and our identity even further.
We have evolved into the smallest landmass shared by two government administrations and have become known as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region.
There is much for which we must be thankful and celebrate on this day of remembrance.
May we not ignore the collective responsibility for our development, particularly at this critical time of our history.
Let us utilize this Emancipation Day to recommit ourselves to being a strong and optimistic people.
I extend a cheerful 2009 Emancipation Day to one and all.