Secretary Zinke Lauds Virgin Islanders’ Progress & Delivers President Trump's "Warm Wishes" at Ceremonies Marking 100th Anniversary of Islands Transfer to America

Joins Danish Prime Minister at Celebrations on St. Croix and St. Thomas

Last edited 10/26/2022
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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today commended the leaders and people of the U.S. Virgin Islands for a century of progress and commitment to the American family during events on St. Croix and St. Thomas that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the day the islands were formally transferred from Denmark to the United States.

The Secretary joined Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the commemoration and Congresswoman Amata Coleman Radewagen, American Samoa's Delegate to the U.S. Congress, also attended as representative of Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.

"Today is a testament to the Virgin Islanders whose commitment, vision, expertise, and sacrifice built these islands, enriched our shared history, and contributed to our national security," Secretary Zinke said. "Since joining the American family, Virgin Islanders have distinguished themselves in education, medicine, engineering, politics, law, entertainment, and sports. And many of their sons and daughters have honorably served and are serving with distinction in the U.S. Armed Forces to provide for our Nation's defense. As we celebrate the history and heritage of your islands, President Trump has asked me to convey his heartfelt congratulations and very best wishes to the people of the Virgin Islands on this historic occasion." 

Secretary Zinke then read a letter from President Donald J. Trump. The letter read, "My warmest wishes as our Nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States...Today, we honor the proud history of the U.S. Virgin Islands and its remarkable legacy as part of our Nation. Virgin Islanders have found great success as members of the American family, distinguishing themselves in the arts, literature, and sports, and achieving great acclaim in the fields of education, medicine, science, engineering, agriculture, politics, and law. Virgin Islands patriots have served honorably in all branches of the United States Armed Forces and continue to serve and sacrifice for our freedom and liberty. As we express our gratitude to our proud citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands, we pause to pay tribute to our Virgin Islands warriors who have given the last full measure of devotion for their country, and for our freedom."

In remarks at both formal events, Secretary Zinke noted that the thriving tourism industry in the USVI has drawn nearly three million visitors a year to enjoy the islands' natural beauty and rich cultural tapestry. "The global market place also has posed economic challenges for your communities and we are maintaining an open dialogue with your leaders as they assess options and examine opportunities to address these challenges," Zinke said.

The Secretary met with USVI Gov. Kenneth Mapp and other local leaders during his visit and participated in various centennial activities. The Secretary was accompanied on his official visit by Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Nikolau Pula.

The Department of the Interior, through the Office of Insular Areas, is responsible for coordinating federal policy with the U.S. Virgin Islands, the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Office of Insular Affairs' mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.

In addition, the Department of the Interior's National Park Service manages a number of public lands in the USVI, including Buck Island Reef National Monument; Christiansted National Historic Site; Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve; Virgin Islands National Park; and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

Situated in the Eastern Caribbean, the USVI consists of the main islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. The islands cover about 136 square miles of land, with 604 square miles of sea and 117 miles of coastline. The population of the USVI is about 105,000. The capital, Charlotte Amalie, is on St. Thomas. To the east is St. John, which hosts the Virgin Islands National Park. St. Croix and its historic towns, Christiansted and Frederiksted, are to the south.


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