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St. John Observes Veterans Day

Soloist Sh’Nyah Bacon, 10, sings the National Anthem with the Julius E. Sprauve School Choir.St. John remembered those who came home from the nation’s various wars, as well as those who didn’t, with a Veterans Day parade and ceremony Monday in Cruz Bay.

“We have a couple who did not make it back home,” master of ceremonies Edmond Roberts said.

Roberts and two other members of St. John’s Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post 131, Elmo Rabsatt and Les Anderson, draped the Prisoner of War-Missing in Action (POW-MIA) flag over a vacant chair in front of the podium in Cruz Bay Park.

“This is for all those who didn’t make it back. I’m glad I did,” Anderson said.

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Keynote speaker Lt. Col. Marilyn Georges, who is retired from the U.S. Army Medical Corps, indicated there are 84,000 people on the list of service members unaccounted for or missing. She also said that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., contains the names of 58,253 people who died in Vietnam.

The Tortola-born Georges grew up in the Virgin Islands. She served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We served in a war on terrorism that deeply wounded our country,” she said.

Georges said that while serving, she was in a compound adjacent to one that was attacked.

“There were body parts all over the street,” she said, adding that others who also served have similar stories to tell.

While the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are freshest in the memories at the ceremony, one Korean War veteran was honored for his service. St. John resident August Hollen, who was not present, received a certificate for his service signed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Anderson said Hollen is the last surviving Korean War veteran living on St. John.Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal Elmo Rabsatt of the Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post 131.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. spoke to the patriotism of those who call the Virgin Islands home although the territory has only been part of the United States since 1917.

He also said that those living in the territory need to provide support for returning veterans.

“What we have is due to others who unselfishly gave of themselves,” deJongh said.

The parade ran from the V.I. National Park ballfield to Cruz Bay park with a loop around the streets near the park. It featured Rabsatt as grand marshal plus members of the St. Thomas-based Patrick U. George American Legion Post 90, the V.I. National Guard and various youth groups.

Small groups of people gathered along the parade route and in Cruz Bay Park to watch the parade.

The program in Cruz Bay Park started off with a performance by the Julius E. Sprauve School Choir featuring soloist Sh’Nyah Bacon, 10, singing the National Anthem.

The Patrick U. George American Legion Post 90 Choir sang later in the program.

The parade was organized by the territory’s Office of Veterans Affairs.

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