July 31, 2003 (Santo Domingo, D.R.) — Filled with a sense of community, the U.S. Virgin Islands contingent started the Pan American Games honoring the V.I. past and saluting the future.
Dr. Marlon Williams, chef de mission and vice president of the V.I. Olympic Committee, accompanied by other members of the U.S.V.I. delegation, represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the flag-raising ceremony that welcomed delegations Thursday. Dr. Williams accepted a gift from Dr. Amilcar Fernandez, governor of the Pan Am Village.
At the end of the ceremony, balloons ascended into the skies surrounding the V.I. flag, finally joining flags of other countries that turned the evening sunset into a rainbow of colors.
The Costa Rica delegation presented a cultural dance. The extravaganza of culture with an explosion of color from all nations was presented to a capacity crowd. The Pan Am Games have representation from 42 countries with 5,000 persons in attendance.
It was clear Thursday evening that the purpose of the Pan American games — to unite the Americas in peaceful competition — would be achieved. It was clear that from July 29 through August 17, 2003, unforgettable friendships would be made. At a time when it seems few nations speak to each other as friends, the Pan American games would stand as a shining example of human exchange and camaraderie.
There will be competition for medals in 50 different sports. The Virgin Islands will have participants in six sports: cycling, sailing, shooting, swimming, tennis and track and field. The athletes, the stars of the games, will be on stage. It will be the chance to show the world the talent and physical skill our tiny U.S. Virgin Islands has. It is not just a chance to compete; it is a chance to compete at the highest level.
Dr. Williams described this first official event as "awesome."
Let the games begin.

Editor's note: This article was submitted by Cora L.E. Christian, M.D., who is accompanying the V.I. delegation.

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