Clinton’s Memorial Day Message Focused on Voting Rights for Puerto Ricans

May 26, 2008 8:11pm

ABC News’ Eloise Harper reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Memorial Day service came at the end of the day today. Clinton stood at an official ceremony outside the capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico. By her side stood her daughter Chelsea and her husband the former president. Clinton’s entire message was focused on the need to give Puerto Ricans the right to vote, especially in light of the service they provide and have provided to our country.

"It is a day to cherish freedoms and opportunities that so many have sacrificed fought for and died to defend," she said. "As we are gathered here in front of this magnificent capitol building, we look at this memorial monument, every single name reminds us of the sacrifices that have been made by the brave men and women of Puerto Rico."

Clinton defended the people of this island and their justification of having a right to vote.

"To anyone who would suggest that the people of Puerto Rico do not deserve equal treatment, equal benefits, equal opportunities because of their position as United States citizens, I say come see this monument, read the names on this monument," she said.. "These are the names of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters who have given, as President Lincoln described, the last full measure of devotion.

"Puerto Rico deserves to have its sacrifice noted," she said. "You deserve to have leadership in Washington that respects and honors this sacrifice and all who serve. The real test is not what we say but what we do. The real challenge is how we can not just make speeches that contain promise, but deliver on those promises. It is for me a sacred obligation.

"I believe it is long past time that we give the people of Puerto Rico, United States citizens all, an equal voice in the vote for the commander in chief who sends young Puerto Ricans to war," the New York senator said.

The tone and demeanor of this event was much more serious and somber than that of events Clinton held earlier in the day in Ponce, P.R., where she was greeted by a loud band that shouted “Hillary! Hillary!” over and over. At that same event, Clinton uttered a little Spanish, saying, “si podemos!” a thing she rarely does. The senator also met with two families who she listened to and laughed with as they shared stories.

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