Virgin Islanders took to the streets Sunday to mark Veterans Day, honoring the citizen soldiers who have served their country in the military, with observances scheduled on all three islands.
The St. Croix parade began at 11 a.m. in Christiansted at Bassin Triangle, continued down King Street onto Hospital Street and into the park surrounding Fort Christiansvaern.
Instructors of past and present V.I. Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps were also honored in the parades. JROTC instructors have mentored, coached and trained high school students since the mid 1980’s in the territory.
“It is definitely an honor to recognize these two distinguished groups of individuals who have invested so much of themselves,” said Director of Veterans Affairs Patrick Farrell.
Gov. Kenneth Mapp and other dignitaries took their places in the reviewing stand to salute the military and para-military organizations and to receive their salute in return.
Brig. Gen. Deborah Howell, the adjutant general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Lourdes Lopez of Veterans Benefits Affairs of the San Juan Regional Office, and Richard Motta, district press secretary from the office of Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett, were platform guests who spoke in remembrance of veterans of the V.I. and Puerto Rico.
Col. Kodjo S. Knox-Limbacker, senior Army advisor to the adjutant general was the keynote speaker. A 1989 graduate of St. Croix Central High School, Knox-Limbacker ended his address with the words, “Freedom is not free.”
Mapp reminded the audience that the V.I. has the highest number of people per capita in the U.S. military.
The St. Thomas parade was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Sunday. The St. John schedule was not announced.