Charlotte Amalie 𑁋 The second Monday in October marks a day when two U.S. territories in the Caribbean celebrate a shared, and oft revisited recounting of history. Today, October 12th, 2020 marks the 56th observation of Virgin Islands – Puerto Rico Friendship Day. The date was chosen to coincide with Columbus Day, as “an appropriate day for commemorating the solidarity of Americans in the Caribbean.” The local holiday observes decades of friendship between Americans in both territories.
Puerto Rican citizen and musician Kristian Bob wrote and released an original song for the special day. Bob shared the song on Twitter with the words, “Forget Columbus. Today is Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Friendship Day. Let the celebration begin!”
The song has been viewed over five-thousand times on Twitter and has been retweeted over two-hundred times, with one Twitter user adding, “I didn’t know this was a thing.” Bob also performed the song with a Virgin Islands flag draped in the background.
Established in 1964 by Governor Ralph Moses Paiewonsky, it honors Puerto Ricans who reside in or who have made substantial contributions to the Virgin Islands and serves as a unifying day for both jurisdictions, which have been barred from participating in U.S. presidental elections for over a century.
Paiewonsky served as the ninth unelected governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands before American citizens in the territory were granted the right to elect their own public officials in local elections. A growing number of states have also opted to ignore Columbus Day and instead observe “Native American Day” or “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” to highlight the atrocities and lies spread by the famed explorer Christopher Columbus — with some historians describing him as, well, a scoundrel.
On November 14, 1493, his fleet of 17 ships landed in Salt River Bay, St. Croix — known as Ay Ay at the time by the Taino tribe — in search of fresh water and food. In a meeting with Governor Albert Bryan Jr. last July, Secretary David Bernhardt, who heads the US Department of Interior said that Salt River Bay is perhaps the most “important piece of United States history,” and should be properly preserved.