The Senate’s Government Operation Committee voted Thursday to advance a measure honoring veterans from the U.S. Virgin Islands by naming a St. John roundabout “The Veterans Circle” and appropriating $20,000 to the V.I. Council of the Arts for the commission of a monument.
If the bill is adopted, the newly named roundabout along with the monument will be in downtown Cruz Bay. The bill notes that during World War II the territory petitioned Congress to include St. John residents in the draft. There is no current monument on St. John honoring the territory’s more than 5,000 war veterans.
Office of Veterans Affairs Director Patrick Farrell said he was in 100 percent support of the measure, saying for far too long the veterans of St. John have gone without this type of recognition.
Farrell also said he recently discussed with Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. the possibility of erecting not only a monument but creating a park. Farrell said the park would include five engraved monuments, similar to the monuments at St. Thomas’ Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Park.
“Many of our other veterans throughout the other islands’ district has seen signs of support for veterans as whole. But this would bring us closer, since we are three separate islands with different goals and objectives,” veteran Harry Daniel said.
Veteran Henry Powell, whose brother lost his life in the Vietnam War, said the recognition is personal.
“I see this as being something very supportive and in commemoration of my brother, keeping him present and with us … we never want to not remember our veterans,” Powell said.
All three testifiers supported the bill proposed by Sen. Athneil Thomas. The committee forwarded the measure to the Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation and Aging for further consideration.
All six committee members present for Thursday’s hearing voted in favor of the measure: Sens. Thomas, Alicia Barnes, Myron Jackson, Marvin Blyden, Allison DeGazon and Javan James. Sen. Kenneth Gittens was absent.