President Donald Trump signed a letter commemorating the centennial of the transfer of the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States, which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke read at ceremonies on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
“Virgin Islanders have found great success as members of the American family, distinguishing themselves in the arts, literature and sports, and achieving great acclaim in the fields of education, medicine, science, engineering, agriculture, politics and law. Virgin Islands patriots have served honorably in all branches of the United States Armed Forces and continue to serve and sacrifice for our freedom and liberty,” the letter signed by Trump says.
“We thank God for the U.S. Virgin Islands, for its wonderful people, and for making the U.S. Virgin Islands part of the United States of America. Congratulations, U.S. Virgin Islands, on your American century,” the letter concludes.
Zinke joined Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the commemoration and American Samoa Delegate to Congress Amata Coleman Radewagen also attended as representative of Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.
“Today is a testament to the Virgin Islanders whose commitment, vision, expertise, and sacrifice built these islands, enriched our shared history, and contributed to our national security,” Zinke said at the St. Thomas ceremony, according to a statement from the Interior Department.
“Since joining the American family, Virgin Islanders have distinguished themselves in education, medicine, engineering, politics, law, entertainment, and sports. And many of their sons and daughters have honorably served and are serving with distinction in the U.S. Armed Forces to provide for our Nation’s defense. As we celebrate the history and heritage of your islands, President Trump has asked me to convey his heartfelt congratulations and very best wishes to the people of the Virgin Islands on this historic occasion,” he said.
Zinke said noted that the thriving tourism industry in the USVI has drawn nearly three million visitors a year to enjoy the islands’ natural beauty and rich cultural tapestry. “The global market place also has posed economic challenges for your communities and we are maintaining an open dialogue with your leaders as they assess options and examine opportunities to address these challenges,” Zinke said.
Zinke also met with Gov. Kenneth Mapp and other local leaders during his visit and participated in various centennial activities.