R 291445Z MAY 20
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC MRA MP//
SUBJ/2020 NATIONAL CARIBBEAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH//
REF/A/HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 71/17FEB2005//
REF/B/SENATE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD 1320/14FEB2006//
REF/E/ESPN CLASSIC/YOUTUBE VIDEO/10DEC2012/”SPORTS CENTURY – ROBERTO CLEMENTE”//
REF/F/MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL/YOUTUBE VIDEO/28DEC2017/”REMEMBERING ROBERTO: MLB REMEMBERS THE LEGACY OF ROBERTO CLEMENTE”//
REF/G/SPORTS DOCUMENTARY (1973)/YOUTUBE VIDEO/05JUN2018/”ROBERTO CLEMENTE: A TOUCH OF ROYALTY”//
POC/T. M. VELAZQUEZ/CIV/MRA (MPE)/TEL: COM 703-784-9371/TEL: DSN 278/EMAIL: THERESA.VELAZQUEZ@USMC.MIL//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. Since first proclaimed in 2006, June is designated as “National Caribbean American Heritage Month.” Each June during Caribbean American Heritage Month, our Nation takes the opportunity to honor Americans from the nearly twenty-five sovereign territories and dependencies within the Caribbean Sea basin, and to reflect upon the past and ongoing contributions Caribbean Americans bring to the success and growth of our Nation. The 2020 observance theme for the Marine Corps is: “Liberty, Honor, and Fidelity.”
2. Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker (1934-1972) was the first great Latino professional baseball player and a Marine. He was born the youngest of seven children to Melchor and Luisa Clemente in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Roberto Clemente played 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1958 becoming an infantryman and served in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and Washington D.C. during the baseball off season. He continued his reserve service until 1964 and achieved the rank of Private First Class. Clemente credited the Marine Corps’ physical training regimen with building his strength.
3. Throughout his remarkable professional baseball career, Roberto Clemente simultaneously spoke out with moral courage against racism and unjust biases in general American society, professional baseball, and the sports media. Being from Puerto Rico where the roots of the people are bonded by Spanish culture, Clemente (who was dark skinned) was unaccustomed to the segregationist regulations and behaviors that existed across the United States mainland and would vocalize his disapproval despite the potential danger of being sent down to the minor leagues. Moreover, Clemente did not possess a full mastery of American English, so he sometimes misunderstood conversational prompts and pleasantries. When asked how he was doing, for example, he took the question literally and responded with a specific answer about his current physical condition. He suffered from malaria, insomnia, and chronic back pain from a 1954 auto accident. Unfortunately, the baseball press lampooned Clemente for his heavy Spanish accent, misquoted him, and ridiculed him as being either lazy or a hypochondriac. Nevertheless, Clemente continued questioning the inequitable treatment of Black and Latino peoples, and he openly expressed his displeasure with the attitude of the media.
4. Clemente took seriously his motto: “If you have a chance to make life better for others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth.” He respected the humble worker, sought to aid the suffering, and enjoyed coaching children. On 23 December 1972, (three months after his 3,000th hit) an earthquake devastated Managua, Nicaragua, and in response Clemente commissioned a cargo plane to deliver donated emergency relief supplies to the Nicaraguan people. However, corrupt authorities commandeered the materials for their own profit. On New Year’s Eve, Clemente took it upon himself to go with a second cargo plane loaded with new emergency relief provisions to ensure their proper distribution. Just after takeoff, the plane crashed off the coast of Carolina, Puerto Rico with Clemente and four others aboard. His body was never recovered. Roberto Clemente was 38 years old, and he left behind his wife, Vera, and their three young sons.
5. Three months after his death despite a five year wait eligibility rule, Roberto Clemente, “The Great One,” was inaugurated into the Baseball Hall of Fame becoming the first Latin American player to be so honored. Subsequently, Major League Baseball instituted the Roberto Clemente Award for humanitarian service. Roberto Clemente was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Puerto Rican Veterans Hall of Fame in 2018. Roberto Clemente’s stellar baseball career and heart-felt humanitarianism continue to inspire people around the world.
6. Lieutenant General Pedro A. del Valle is acknowledged as the first Hispanic Marine Corps Lieutenant General. Born on San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1893, he later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1915. During WWII in 1945, he was the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division for the Battle of Okinawa. Today, the Marine Corps offers the Pedro del Valle Leadership Scholarship in his honor.
7. To learn more about the Marine Corps’ Caribbean American heritage, Medal of Honor recipients, and U.S. military history, visit the Library of the Marine Corps (grc-usmcu.libguides.com/library-of-the-marine-corps) or select a book from the Commandant’s Professional Reading list (grc-usmcu.libguides.com/usmc-reading-list). To learn more about Roberto Clemente, read, “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero,” by David Maraniss (2006).
8. During this observance month, commanders are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the invaluable service and selfless contributions Caribbean Americans - military, veteran, and civilian - give to our country and Corps. Commanders are further encouraged to conduct online programs and to promote remote participation in observance events within their commands and across their local communities.
9. Release authorized by BGen D. L. Shipley, Division Director, Manpower Plans and Policy.//