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PR Newswire (U.S.)
Puerto Rican Government Officials Pay Tribute To Servicemen And Servicewomen Who Have Lost Their Lives In Combat
Delegation From Puerto Rico Visits 'Faces Of The Fallen' Exhibit At Arlington National Cemetery More Than 15,000 Puerto Rican Troops Have Been Or Will Be Deployed To Iraq And Afghanistan
By Mark I. Pinsky and Kate Santich | Sentinel Staff Writers
April 7, 2005
WASHINGTON, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- In memory of the 27 Puerto Rican servicemen and servicewomen who have died in U.S. military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a delegation of Puerto Rican government officials gathered to pay tribute at Arlington National Cemetery today. The delegation visited "Faces of the Fallen," a portrait exhibit at the cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial, and laid flowers in honor of the 13 Puerto Ricans featured in the exhibit. Immediately following, the delegation read the names of all the Puerto Rican men and women who have given their lives in recent combat, observed a moment of silence and laid a wreath in memory of the service members.
The delegation included Jorge Silva, Puerto Rico Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce; Marisara Pont, Puerto Rico Secretary of State; Adjutant General Francisco A. Marquez of the Puerto Rican National Guard; and Eduardo Bhatia, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. The delegation was joined by Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, who led the group through the exhibit and took part in the ceremony and wreath laying.
"We are honored to gather today in memory of the brave and selfless Puerto Ricans who gave their lives while serving the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Jorge Silva, Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce. "Puerto Rico has a long and proud history of defending our values, and sadly today we honor those residents who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our country."
"Most importantly, we want the families of those honored today to know that the government of Puerto Rico is proud of these servicemen and servicewomen who have given their lives in combat," said Eduardo Bhatia, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. "We offer this tribute to them and their families; they are true heroes to all Puerto Ricans."
"Faces of the Fallen" is a temporary portrait exhibit of more than 1,300 individuals who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 200 artists from across the country donated the portraits, which are housed in the main hall of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
Marisara Pont, Puerto Rico Secretary of State, added, "Because this exhibit is temporary, many Puerto Rican family members may be unable to travel to Arlington to view the portrait of their loved one. This delegation from Puerto Rico recognized the unique opportunity while visiting Washington, to pay our respects to those honored in the exhibit, and all those lost in recent military conflicts."
"Puerto Ricans have fought in every war since World War II, and have a history of service to our country and success on the battlefield that is unparalleled," said Adjutant General Francisco A. Marquez of the Puerto Rican National Guard. "I am honored today to represent Puerto Rico's servicemen and servicewomen around the world as we pay our respects to our fallen colleagues."
Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. Armed Forces -- both in peacetime and on the battlefield -- and have been a significant presence in the U.S. military. The Puerto Rican government estimates that approximately 15,000 Puerto Rican reserves or members of the National Guard have been or will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Puerto Rico ranks the sixth highest in per capita contributions to the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard and fourth highest in reserve deployments when compared to units of 100,000. Puerto Rico is proud of the Island's contributions to defend their country and its citizens remain committed to the U.S. military.
Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration
Eduardo Bhatia, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Executive Director, represents the Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vila, in Washington, D.C., to facilitate and promote economic and public policy initiatives important to the growth and empowerment of Puerto Rico. PRFAA's Washington, D.C., office is located at 1100 17th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 and can be reached at (202) 778-0710 or via the web at http://www.prfaa.com/ .
Web site: http://www.prfaa.com/
CONTACT: Ana Carrion of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration,cell: +1-202-421-1786, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Hadley Harris, cell:+1-301-257-2050, or email@example.com, for Puerto Rico Federal AffairsAdministration