Garifuna Veterans of America: The Pride of the Garifuna Community

Photos courtesy of Debbie Powers

Executive Officer Edson Arzu looks over the growing crowd of supporters for this years 4th Annual Garifuna Veterans of America Core Values Award Ceremony hosted by Monroe College.

This year’s event honored five Garifuna throughout the country along with a mix of Caribbean and Spanish entrees. There was an array of entertainment to include dancing, historical lessons and more. Due to the increase in participation, he prepared for this years event with a larger facility than the previous years. Jokingly, I tell him that in 5 years we might need to book Yankee Stadium if he keeps up the good work.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Powers

The ceremony this year was a little different by being more focused on the stronger independence of the Garifuna heritage in the Bronx. Mr. Arzu explained that since the 3rd Annual event was held in a military base in Virgina, he wanted to show a stronger presence in the Bronx this year. “It was great knowing that our organization can do this event outside of the Bronx but I have always loved the energy here in the Bronx. Especially since we have a huge population of Garfiuna.” Mr. Arzu said. He went on to  say that he has plans to do an upcoming event in the West Coast but that it will not happen until three years down the line.

Now the hallmark of the event was the mixture of the Military and Garifuna combination. Opening the ceremony was both the American and Garifuna national anthems. Afterwards there was a quick history lesson of how the Garifuna culture began and the various diasporas that make up the culture. A delicious cuisine along with refreshments was enjoyed by the attendees. The beating of drums, an important part of Garifuna music, played as dancers directed the beats.

The awards ceremony was accompanied by inspirational stories of accomplishments from the honorees. While there was media coverage of the event there was no presence of politicians this year. Mr. Arzu explained that he did invite them but that he did not follow through with them because his main focus this year was on the huge increase in guest and the recipients of the awards. He clarified by saying that, “When I put out the announcement for the event, I received dozens of applicants for recognition and hundreds of inquires from all over the country to attend. Before I even had a location picked out, I had more people than two of any of the previous events combined.”

Photo courtesy of Debbie Powers

After the event, I asked Mr. Arzu what his thoughts were of this years event compared to the previous ones, “It was the best one yet and it will be hard to beat next year but I will try.”

Sergeant Gonzalo Duran is a supporter of Garifuna Veterans of America, Devil Dog USA, Inc. is a proud sponsor for the Garifuna Veterans of America Core Values Award Ceremony and we look forward to helping them every year.

For more information on Garifuna Veterans of America, please check out their Facebook page here or at

Photos courtesy of Debbie Powers

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