In her bi-weekly column, “State of the Territory,” former Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw delves deeper into issues of concern for V.I. residents.
Honoring Sacrifice, Advocating for Voting Rights, and Recognizing the Resilience of Virgin Islanders
As our nation collectively pauses to observe Veterans Day, a profound moment to pay tribute to the selfless contributions of the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces, it is not only a time for gratitude but also an imperative occasion for deep reflection on the multifaceted experiences of our veterans. Within this diverse tapestry, we find the stories of resilient individuals from the Virgin Islands and U.S. territories, who, despite their unwavering dedication to the nation, find themselves denied a fundamental right — the right to vote for their Commander in Chief.
My father, Levron “Pops” Sarauw, a distinguished Virgin Islander and a Vietnam War veteran, emerges as a powerful symbol of the sacrifices made by countless servicemen and women during one of the most tumultuous periods in our nation’s history. Drafted under the provisions of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1940 Selective Service Act, my dad, like many of his contemporaries, willingly set aside their personal aspirations to respond to the call of duty, venturing into an unfamiliar and perilous landscape.
One of the most unpopular wars, the Vietnam War stands as a poignant chapter in the nation’s history, marking the second instance of the draft summoning American men into the armed forces.
The sacrifices made by my dad and his fellow service members, both then and now, underscore the courage and commitment required to safeguard the freedoms we hold dear. In our contemporary era, where men and women continue to bravely stand as shields for our nation, it remains profoundly disheartening that some Americans, particularly those in the Virgin Islands and U.S. territories, are denied the right to vote for the very leadership they pledged to protect.
As we express heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities afforded to us, it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge the need for change. Virgin Islanders, akin to my dad, persist in believing in the American dream despite the limitations on their rights. This Veterans Day, let us not only honor the ongoing commitment of our servicemen and women but also passionately advocate for the full rights of all who have served.
To those who have valiantly protected us in distant and challenging places, we extend our deepest thanks for your service. May this Veterans Day be a moment of profound reflection, filled with gratitude for the opportunities provided, and may it ignite a renewed commitment to ensuring that every American, regardless of their residence, can fully participate in the democratic process they have so bravely defended.