Island gov’t commemorates July 4 in call for ‘equality’
By The Star Staff
The Government of Puerto Rico celebrated the commemoration of the 246th anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence in Cataño on Monday in accordance with the public policy of safeguarding the democratic foundations built on the principles of freedom, justice and equal rights.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia offered his message focused on the fight for “equal” rights for all citizens of Puerto Rico.
“Together today we celebrate the principles of equality and democracy that distinguish the United States, we reiterate our pride in being part of the American nation and we raise its flag, aware that there is still a long way to go toward full equality under that flag,” the governor said. “Along this path we have obtained many privileges that we value in our daily lives.”
He added that “for 123 years the American flag has flown on our land, and for 105 years we have been American citizens.”
“And since then we have been immersed in the struggle for full democracy. Because that evident truth of equality has not yet fully materialized in Puerto Rico.”
“Those of us who are proud to have American citizenship are not willing to settle for just part of the rights and opportunities of that citizenship,” Pierluisi said. “We want total democracy; we do not accept it halfway. We fight for it for our soldiers and veterans, for our most vulnerable citizens, for our young and old, for our working class, for our companies, and to have the right to vote for the president and those who represent us in Congress.”
The governor added that “the American nation showed us that the right to equality is not ceded, it is fought for and demanded.”
The event was dedicated to the American Legion led by Cmdr. Carmen Rosario Díaz, who is the first woman in charge of the Puerto Rico Department of the American Legion. This organization is made up of veterans from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the purpose of serving veterans of American military service, improving their quality of life and defending their acquired rights and benefits. The achievements of Rosario Díaz have been decisive in obtaining several awards, the governor noted.
The American Legion was established in 1919 by the U.S. Congress as a patriotic organization of veterans dedicated to helping each other and defending the rights of those who have given their lives in defense of the nation.
Puerto Rico Secretary of State Omar Marrero Díaz, Cataño Mayor Julio Alicea Vasallo and La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales along with other commonwealth government secretaries and cabinet chiefs. Also present were island senators, representatives and mayors, and representatives of the U.S. armed forces.
During the protocol acts, the secretary of state was in charge of reading the Proclamation and Dedication. For its part, the 248th Band of the Puerto Rico National Guard, as well as the Army National Guard, presented a musical selection, and from El Morro in Old San Juan, 50 cannon shots were issued accompanied by a parade of fishermen in the Bay of Cataño.
To culminate the official acts, a parade was held with local and federal security components.