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February 21, 2013 a


hen I was stationed in Rota, some twenty plus years ago, I never took note of the fact that this area of Spain has an incredible historical connection to our beloved USA. I recently had the fortune to meet a member of the “Gateway to America” Foundation (Fundacion Puerta de America) which has been established in our neighboring city Sanlucar de Barrameda. To explain what this organization´s purpose is, I think that a rough translation of a statement, found on its website and made by its President, provides a clear idea: “Welcome to the Gateway to America Foundation. We want to invite you to become a participant in a great historical event, and celebration, which will undoubtedly be memorable for you. From the year 2019 to 2022, we are going to commemorate, from Sanlucar de Barrameda, the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the world. A feat which began in this corner of Spain, when (in 1519) five ships, with 242 men onboard, set sail with the intention of confirming that the Earth was round. Three years later, one single ship, with 18 exhausted and ill sailors, returned to the same shore. They had completed the first circumnavigation of the world. The

role in the discovery and development of the North and South American continents. Many people are not aware that Christopher Columbus made several voyages to the Americas, and along with many of the Spanish conquistadores, set sail from Sanlucar de Barrameda. Examples of the expeditions which departed from Sanlucar, and which link the history of Spain to that of the United States, include the following: Sanlucar de Barrameda was much more than the site of this memorable event…it was the primary protagonist in the “¨Race to the Indies.” During the next few years we want to reflect on these achievements which have defined our personality and we also want to let the present-day world know the importance that this Andalusian city has had in the history of the world. Welcome Aboard.” Francisco Pacheco Isla, President, Gateway to America Foundation. When my Spanish wife , who speaks English very well, told me that Fernando de Magallanes` ships set sail from Sanlucar (while showing me the commemorative plaque in the Plaza del Cabildo in Sanlucar), I said that I had never heard of him before. She corrected me and said that I surely had,

via the Strait of Magellan), and the first to cross the Pacific. His expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth, although Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, having been killed in the Philippines. Out of the five ships that originally set sail only the Nau Victoria returned, commanded by Juan Sebastian El Cano. The voyage began on September 20, 1519 and ended on September 6, 1522. As the gentleman above states, the

Juan Ponce de León, in separate voyages during 1502 and 1515, led to the discovery of what is now the State of Florida. Pánfilo de Narváez and Alvaro Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, in 1527, explored the areas which are now the States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico. Hernando de Soto, in 1538, explored what are now the States of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1539, explored what is now the State of California. Pedro Méndez de Avilés, in 1565, founded the city of Saint Augustine which was the first European settlement in the United States. Nicolás de Cardona , in 1613, explored what are now California and the western coast of the United States.

Gateway to America Foundation wants to commemorate this extraordinary achievement and we also want to call to mind that

but that I had probably heard him called “Ferdinand Magellan.” I was shocked and in awe. I was standing in an incredibly historical place. This is something that we have all certainly studied in our world history classes. Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" in Indonesia. Magellan's expedition of 1519–1522 became the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (the passage being made

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An incredible part of U.S. history began in this area of Spain. And, accordingly, our history is part of Spain´s history. The Gateway to America Foundation, in the coming years, will be involved in several projects which relate to these explorers, their ships and the equipment that they used, their voyages, and their discoveries. I have been told that the Foundation´s members look forward to the participation of Americans in these events since it is clear to them that we share a common history. The foundation is a member of Facebook and is listed under Fundacion Puerta de America. Their website is Gateway to America Foundation wants the world to know not only about Sanlucar being the starting point for the first circumnavigation of the world; but it also wants the world to know about the role that the city of Sanlucar has played in the many, many voyages that departed from there and which ultimately played a crucial

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