I join the entire Virgin Islands community in celebrating the 57th Anniversary of Virgin Islands Puerto Rico (VIPR) Friendship Day. The longstanding history, contributions, friendship, and ties that bind the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are strong and vibrant.

As a people, we recognize the significance of the change of this observance from Columbus Day to VIPR Friendship Day. This change occurred in 1964 under then Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky. This meaningful legislation served as a true symbol of the people and represents a valuable part of the history that unites the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Our islands are truly remarkable.  Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain connected in pride and legacy as we continue to find ways to come together and embrace our rich heritage. The sharing of our cultural traditions is passed down from one generation to the next through unique foods, languages, the arts, music, and our valued way of life. The merging of these cultures has strengthened our distinct relationship as friends and neighbors.

VIPR Friendship extends beyond the observance of this day, it is a journey forward while remembering the past. There are lasting opportunities to learn and grow from the mutual exchange of our core customs and practices. Differences should not be used to divide us; we are stronger together. May we never lose sight of the deep-rooted history that helps to make us who we are and also keeps us connected.

On behalf of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, I offer best wishes for a safe celebration. Happy Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico Friendship Day to all!