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Legislature Honors Crucians for National and Local Service

Jan. 5, 2009 — Family members and well-wishers Monday filled the Fritz E. Lawaetz Conference Room in Frederiksted to see the Legislature formally commend and present the V.I. Gold Medal of Honor to nine notable Crucians, some living, some passed.
Five of the nine were V.I. soldiers who gave their lives for their country in Iraq and Afghanistan: Army Specialist Jose Emmanuel Rosario Almestica, Private First Class Jason Nathanial Lynch, Marine Lance Corporal Shane L. Goldman, Sgt. First Class Floyd E. Lakeand Lt. Col. David Canegata II.
Senate President Usie R. Richards offered a few opening remarks.
"In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," he said, "'Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.'
"The hearts and souls of these outstanding members of our community who are being honored today at our plaque presentation ceremony have certainly demonstrated a transcendent love. Through exemplary service, they have risen above indifference, insignificance and ingratitude. They have made a difference in our lives. They have impacted our society significantly. They have earned our gratitude beyond words."
Donald C. Nelthropp Sr., commended for his contributions to the community as president of the Cruzan Rum company, picked up his medal in person. In 1959, Nelthropp became a partner in the rum distillery that became Cruzan Rum. Since then the company has grown from producing 300,000 gallons a year to more than 7.5 million, bringing more than $2 billion in tax revenue to the territory over the ensuing decades.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha service sorority was honored on its historic centennial celebration, and its Mu Gamma Omega Chapter on St. Croix on its 30th year of outstanding community service.
A bill was read honoring Emile "Gravy" Henderson Jr. by naming the tennis and basketball court complex next to Fort Frederik after him, and appropriating $1,000 for a sign. His son, Emile Henderson III, accepted the plaque and medal and offered a few words.
Eulalie Rivera, who passed away Friday at the age of 101, was honored for her many achievements and her status as a cultural icon. (See "History Maker Eulalie Rivera Dies at 101.")
"I'd like to thank the family for indulging us at their time of bereavement," Richards said. "It was our intention for her to be with us to appreciate our recognition. But when it comes to God's hand, we are all very very powerless."
After the ceremonies and a benediction from Pastor Dexter Skepple of Speak the Word Ministries, the senators, honorees, family members and legislative staff retired to the courtyard for a light buffet.
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