Nov. 11, 2007 — St. John honored veterans across the territory and the country Sunday with a Veterans Day parade and ceremony in Coral Bay.
"Without American soldiers there wouldn't be an American nation," Jerry Runyon, commander of St. John's Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post 131, said at the ceremony held at the Guy Benjamin School basketball court.
American Legion Auxiliary President Maria Lett, whose brother was Viggo E. Sewer, the first V.I. resident to die in the Korean War, spoke about the history of the day. She noted that Nov. 11 commemorates the signing of the armistice that ended World War I.
"It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," she said.
She said that although the date was originally observed as Armistice Day, it became Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all those who served and those who died in the nation's wars.
Although Post 131 has held Veteran's Day parades for seven years, this was the first event in Coral Bay. The others were all in Cruz Bay.
This was also the first year the parade had the V.I. National Guard marching band at its front.
"It's so much bigger than usual. It's mushroomed. Our group did well in contacting people," Runyon said.
The parade and ceremony also brought out many residents. About 50 sat under the broiling afternoon sun for the ceremony and others lined the parade route.
"I'm here to show my respect and honor my father," St. John resident Andrew Yellen Jr. said.
He had a seat in the shade next to his father, Andrew "Captain Magic" Yellen Sr., an American Legion member and Korean War veteran.
St. John resident Morgan Barlas said he was on hand to show his respects to those who cared for the U.S.
And he also said he came out to watch the flag football team that followed the ceremony. St. John's American Legion organization sponsors the flag football league.
Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville was among those marching. He said it was his first visit to Coral Bay.
"I'm an army brat. I'm descended from many veterans," he said while waiting for the parade to start in front of Love City Mini Mart.
Those in the parade marched about one-quarter mile down Route 107, turned at what is known locally as the Triangle and ended up at the basketball court.
Morris Moorehead, who serves as head of the territory's Veteran's Affairs Office, said that there were 24 million living Americans who served in uniform.
"But let us not forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
National Guard Brigadier General Renaldo Rivera said that about 500 Virgin Islands residents have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as members of the National Guard.
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