I join the entire Virgin Islands community in celebrating the 56th Anniversary of Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Friendship (VIPR) Day. Historically, the change of this significant observation in the Territory from Columbus Day to VIPR Friendship Day occurred in 1964, under then Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky.

This change has served as a most appropriate and meaningful piece of legislation for the people of the Virgin Islands. It represents a valuable part of the history that unites the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We are connected as a people by the things that make us who we are, such as our foods, eclectic music genres, diverse languages, festival traditions, our deep-rooted heritage, and way of life. The vibrant display of our cultures binds us in pride and legacy.

There are lasting opportunities to learn and grow from the mutual exchange of our core customs and practices. Differences should never be used to divide us and cause intolerance. We are stronger together, as we embrace the resilience that keeps us moving forward, even during unprecedented and challenging times.

Each year, we are traditionally able to participate in a schedule of activities coordinated by the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee. However, due to COVID-19, the celebration this year will transition to a virtual format. I applaud the efforts of the VIPR Friendship Committee for their creativity in ensuring that we can still observe this significant occasion and celebrate this year’s theme of “Cultivating the Unity of our Cultures.”

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!