On November 11, Americans celebrated Veterans Day. This federal holiday honors veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The US territories regard this day with profound importance, with a combined veteran population of over 100,000. But, each of the territories has unique customs and traditions to acknowledge veterans.
In Puerto Rico, Veterans Day is a public holiday on which government offices close—like in the US mainland. Major financial institutions such as Oriental Bank, also close on Veterans Day. Additionally, the National Park Service allows visitors to visit the San Juan Historical Site for free on Veterans Day. Besides this holiday, Puerto Ricans also celebrate National Borinqueneers Day on April 13. This holiday commemorates the 65th Infantry Regiment, a Puerto Rican unit of the US Army during the Korean War. Plus, veterans receive special benefits, such as tax exemptions.
Guam residents also have a storied history with Veterans Day. 7.9% of the population has served in the US Armed Forces—the highest in all the territories. The Air Force facilities on the island reinforce this military presence. Thus, Guam hosts ceremonies at the Governor’s Complex in Adelup every Veterans Day.
Like other territories, most businesses suspend operations in American Samoa on Veterans Day, but the largest employer StarKist Samoa remains open. Last year, Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga laid wreaths at the Memorial Monument to honor veterans. Further, the territory supports veteran health through the Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). In collaboration with government and non-profit organizations, the CBOC expands accessibility for veteran healthcare services in rural areas.
Veterans Day is significant in the US Virgin Islands as well. This year, there were parades for Virgin Islands veterans Warren “Cap” Hendrickson, Charles David, and Captain Noel Boynes. Also, Labor Commissioner Gary Molloy, a graduate of the University of the Virgin Islands with 30 years of experience, released a statement on the federal holiday. In the statement, he thanked veterans for their “extraordinary sacrifices” made “on our behalf in the name of freedom, liberty, and peace.” His department provides vital resources such as the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP). The DVOP facilitates career counseling, hosts job search workshops, and informs veterans of their eligibility for employment benefits.
The Northern Mariana Islands celebrate Veterans Day in a similar way. Many residents display US flags outside their homes or attend public events. At American Memorial Park, there was a flyover open to the public at the Veterans Day Ceremony.