The 100 or so residents who turned out for the Peace Memorial Service Saturday night at Island Center for the Performing Arts displayed the enthusiasm and compassion of a much larger crowd as they promoted peace and honored victims of violence.
The event was organized by Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson and a committee of “concerned citizens,” including Sen. Marvin Blyden, he said.
“The purpose is to memorialize those who have been murdered and give support to the families of the victims and perpetrators – to acknowledge the sadness and anger they are living with,” Nelson said.
The early evening event began with a drum circle, a libation ceremony and an invocation. Activities included music by Mind, Body and Soul – the Police Athletic League sponsored youth band – and motivational speakers, including Reinhold Jackson and Ariela Hayes.
“May I remind you that those who have passed that we call victims are actually silent heroes and sheroes. They now stand with out ancestors continuously blessing us from the other side with power, vision and the courage to change dark energy into the bright light that vibrates truth and love,” Hayes said.
Emotional testimonials were presented from families and friends of several victims. Donald and Daniel Lewis talked about their father, who was murdered before they were born, and Tonya Sweeney remembered Peter de Jardin and Robert Johnson, whose killers have never been brought to justice.
Jean Cruz commemorated Jesus Brown, who was murdered last year, and reggae singer Mada Nile talked about the father of her children, who was murdered by a friend. Nile sang a powerful song of peace and strength – "It’s not me, It’s not you, It’s we, It’s us."
A dozens doves were released and candles were lit for the murder victims, while their names and photos were displayed. So far, there have been 31 killings this year in the Virgin Islands.
Sandra Phaire announced that the St. Croix Rotary Clubs will prepare, update and send to the media a weekly calendar of peace-centered activities.
Nelson said more events are planned, including a peace rally concert and parade on Nov. 7 at the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agriculture Fairgrounds.