100th Anniversary of the Wreck of the USS Memphis

Your excellency Ambassador Roberto Alvarez;

Honorable Maximo Iglesias, President of the Board of Directors of the Dominican Tourism Consortium;

Distinguished Sr. Ranaud Anselin, Quinta Dominica;

Distinguished representatives of the Dominican and U.S. Armed Forces;

Honorable family members of Senor Emeterio Sánchez;

It is an honor to be here with you to recognize the heroism of U.S. sailors and Dominican citizens on the 100th anniversary of the disaster of the USS Memphis.  I would like to thank all of the organizers, historians, and researchers who worked to ensure that the story of the Memphis was not forgotten.

As we have already heard, the loss of the Memphis was a tragic event for the U.S. Navy.  Yet throughout the ordeal, the crew of the Memphis demonstrated extraordinary valor, remaining at their stations and continuing to do their utmost to save the ship.  Their bravery was in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.

Tonight, we recognize the efforts of Dominican citizens who also rose to the highest standards of honor and bravery.  In particular, we honor Emeterio Sanchez, a Dominican who repeatedly dove into the water to rescue U.S. sailors, facing great threat to his own life.  Without his efforts, historians agree that many more lives would have been lost.  We are humbled and moved that his descendants are here today to receive an expression of our appreciation.

When I heard this piece of history for the first time, I was not surprised that Dominicans and Americans worked together in a time of need.  In my time as U.S. Ambassador in your beautiful country, I have witnessed our cooperation and strong bilateral relations on numerous occasions.  Our friendship runs deep, based on people-to-people ties, shared values, and mutual respect.

Although the Memphis remains under the sea, this exhibit brings it to light again, honoring the bravery and cooperation of Dominicans and Americans.  Once again, it is an honor to express our appreciation to Emeterio Sanchez’s family, on behalf of the United States.

Thank you.