May 27, 2005 – Politicians, veterans and active military personnel are getting ready to take part in 2005 Memorial Day ceremonies on St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and in the nation's capital. Organizers of these events are urging the public to join them in remembering Virgin Islanders who have given their lives while serving in the United States armed forces.
"Memorial Day is of special significance here in the Virgin Islands for two reasons: First and foremost, we have a large population of veterans who have died in combat and whose families still live among us today and, secondly, long before we were American citizens, Virgin Islanders have fought and died in battles to preserve American democratic ideals from as far back as the Civil War," said Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone in his Memorial Day greetings issued Friday.
Many in the top circles of government echoed Malone's sentiment that honoring Virgin Islands war dead is still important. And because of national events of the past few years, Memorial Day has taken on new meaning. On Thursday, Delegate Donna Christensen joined members of the Congressional Women's Caucus in honoring military women buried at Arlington Cemetery.
"We particularly remember Maudlin White, who lost her life in the Pentagon on 9/11," Christensen said. She recalled attending the burial of White in Arlington. Also on the delegate's mind was the late Senate President Ruby M. Rouss, who served as a Master Sergeant in World War II.
"One gave her life for her country, and the other served with distinction both in and out of the military in dedication to her fellow man," Christensen said.
They will be among those remembered when members of the American Legion and the Virgin Islands National Guard join the tributes scheduled to take place Monday. Marches, wreath laying, flag raisings and speeches are scheduled as part of the observances.
In Christiansted, Memorial Day begins at Basin Triangle, where marchers are set to assemble at 8 a.m. for a procession to the Christiansted Cemetery and later to the National Park Waterfront for graveside and seaside tributes. Marchers will then join the public at the Christiansted bandstand at 10 a.m. for the official ceremony.
Roosevelt Park is the planned site of the Memorial Day ceremony on St. Thomas, scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. Monday. Before that, marchers will gather at 9 a.m. at the Western Cemetery for prayers, raising the flag, the laying of wreaths and a Final Salute to the Dead. The procession is then set to make its way to the Coast Guard Dock for the casting of petals in the water to honor those who died at sea.
Color guards and buglers from the National Guard, along with members of the firing squad are expected to join the Christiansted parade. The National Guard 73rd Army Band is expected to perform for the ceremonies, hosted by the American Legion Post 102 on St. Croix and Post 90 on St. Thomas.
On St. John, the American Legion Post 131 will assemble at the National Park Service bulkhead in Cruz Bay for a march to the Cruz Bay Cemetery. A wreath presentation is scheduled to take place at the cemetery, along with a brief ceremony.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has ordered all flags on government buildings and other facilities to be flown at half staff from sunrise until noon.
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