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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Community Honors Its Heroes at Veterans Memorial Park

V.I. Community Honors Its Heroes at Veterans Memorial Park

American Legion Veteran Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Ortiz (left) and Dober student Ebrahim Abu-shanan, flank Poppy Girls. at Roosevelt Park.From fifth-graders to veterans of wars long past, the community honored the V.I. men and women who have served the country, those who have given their lives and those still actively serving, this Monday at Franklin D. Roosevelt V.I. Veterans Memorial Park.
Youngsters filled the opening ceremonies with music and poetry, with young Poppy Girls dressed in communion white with garlands of poppies in their hair, silently threading through the crowd handing out red paper poppies from straw baskets.
The day’s observances began at Western Cemetery with the traditional laying of a wreath, then headed up Veterans Drive to the Emil White monument, where petals were strewn on the water in a symbolic salute to those lost at sea, then on to Roosevelt Park.
The American Legion Patrick U. George Post No. 90 marched along with JROTC members from Ivanna Eudora Kean and Charlotte Amalie high schools, and the V.I. National Guard, led by Gov. John deJongh Jr. and V.I. National Guard Adj. Gen. Renaldo Rivera.
American Legionnaires line up at Memorial Day service.The occasion, while solemn, was brought to life with the strength and earnestness of the youngsters. Sherwin Williams played a perfectly toned saxophone rendition of "Amazing Grace," followed by an impassioned version of the poem "Freedom Isn’t Free, No!" recited by Ebrahim Abu-Shanan. Both are Dober Elementary School fifth-graders.
Dejongh performed the ritual laying of the wreaths at the foot of the five pillars bearing the names of V.I. soldiers killed in combat as far back as World War II. Each pillar represents a branch of the armed forces.
After a salute to the dead by the VING bugler firing squad, the audience fell silent as the American Legion’s Rudolph Garfield read each name on the pillars, which represent an individual who "paid the ultimate sacrifice " to protect the freedoms Virgin Islanders enjoy today.
In a brief tribute, following the playing of "Taps," Senate President Louis Hill spoke of the emotional "tug at the heart" that the notes bring. "It reminds us of the families, it urges us to offer a kind word of support, a prayer for those with loved ones serving now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo."
In later remarks, the governor noted, "Even though we are not allowed to vote [in the U. S. presidential election], Virgin Islanders have volunteered to serve their country as far back as World War II. It is part of our legacy."
The governor said that during his first two years in office, "Almost every month I attended a service for our fallen Virgin Islanders. I honor those families."
Much emphasis was put on support of the veterans’ families throughout the ceremony. Keynote speaker Kayyon C. Harley, a four-year Kean High School JROTC member and U.S. Army veteran, said, "When I think of Memorial Day, I wonder if we are not aware of the families of those that have served, or if we have just forgotten. It’s easy to remember individual soldiers, but what about the families left behind. We need to support them."
Harley spoke of veterans’ benefits now available. She and Harry Daniel, Veterans Affairs assistant director, urged veterans to take advantage of current benefits, which include counseling. They announced a job and health fair at the National Guard Armory June 20, where counseling will be available.

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American Legion Veteran Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Ortiz (left) and Dober student Ebrahim Abu-shanan, flank Poppy Girls. at Roosevelt Park.From fifth-graders to veterans of wars long past, the community honored the V.I. men and women who have served the country, those who have given their lives and those still actively serving, this Monday at Franklin D. Roosevelt V.I. Veterans Memorial Park.
Youngsters filled the opening ceremonies with music and poetry, with young Poppy Girls dressed in communion white with garlands of poppies in their hair, silently threading through the crowd handing out red paper poppies from straw baskets.
The day's observances began at Western Cemetery with the traditional laying of a wreath, then headed up Veterans Drive to the Emil White monument, where petals were strewn on the water in a symbolic salute to those lost at sea, then on to Roosevelt Park.
The American Legion Patrick U. George Post No. 90 marched along with JROTC members from Ivanna Eudora Kean and Charlotte Amalie high schools, and the V.I. National Guard, led by Gov. John deJongh Jr. and V.I. National Guard Adj. Gen. Renaldo Rivera.
American Legionnaires line up at Memorial Day service.The occasion, while solemn, was brought to life with the strength and earnestness of the youngsters. Sherwin Williams played a perfectly toned saxophone rendition of "Amazing Grace," followed by an impassioned version of the poem "Freedom Isn't Free, No!" recited by Ebrahim Abu-Shanan. Both are Dober Elementary School fifth-graders.
Dejongh performed the ritual laying of the wreaths at the foot of the five pillars bearing the names of V.I. soldiers killed in combat as far back as World War II. Each pillar represents a branch of the armed forces.
After a salute to the dead by the VING bugler firing squad, the audience fell silent as the American Legion's Rudolph Garfield read each name on the pillars, which represent an individual who "paid the ultimate sacrifice " to protect the freedoms Virgin Islanders enjoy today.
In a brief tribute, following the playing of "Taps," Senate President Louis Hill spoke of the emotional "tug at the heart" that the notes bring. "It reminds us of the families, it urges us to offer a kind word of support, a prayer for those with loved ones serving now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo."
In later remarks, the governor noted, "Even though we are not allowed to vote [in the U. S. presidential election], Virgin Islanders have volunteered to serve their country as far back as World War II. It is part of our legacy."
The governor said that during his first two years in office, "Almost every month I attended a service for our fallen Virgin Islanders. I honor those families."
Much emphasis was put on support of the veterans' families throughout the ceremony. Keynote speaker Kayyon C. Harley, a four-year Kean High School JROTC member and U.S. Army veteran, said, "When I think of Memorial Day, I wonder if we are not aware of the families of those that have served, or if we have just forgotten. It's easy to remember individual soldiers, but what about the families left behind. We need to support them."
Harley spoke of veterans' benefits now available. She and Harry Daniel, Veterans Affairs assistant director, urged veterans to take advantage of current benefits, which include counseling. They announced a job and health fair at the National Guard Armory June 20, where counseling will be available.