Some of the veterans leading today’s Flag Day parade at the Veterans Stadium, Tafuna, American Samoa
Story and Photos by Lance Polu
PAGO PAGO: FRIDAY 18 APRIL 2015: The American Samoa 115th Flag Day celebrations today honoured the blood of Samoans who gave their ultimate sacrifice, the veterans and men and women in uniform currently serving with the United States military.
“115 years is a long time,” said Governor Lolo Moliga in his address in an inter Samoa celebration where Samoa’s Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Speaker of the Samoa Parliament La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao represented the independent Samoa.
Also present were the Indonesian Ambassador in the United States, the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners based in Apia, the Niue Ambassador based in Wellington and the Ulu of Tokelau, Siopili Perez amongst the officials of the American Samoan Government.
“No amount of recognition will be enough for families who have suffered the loss of a wife, husband, father, mother or child. These brave men and women, who paid the ultimate sacrifice of life, are forever in our memories and their families in our prayers,” said the Governor.
American Samoa has the highest number of lives lost as per capita, of servicemen in the United States military.
“Our relationship with the United States, fashioned by our forefathers, was not caused by an act of aggression or an acquisition through annexation,” said Governor Lolo.
“It was founded and formed on friendship, trust and wisdom based on our forefathers fir conviction that bequeathing our island to the United States would ensure that the hopes and dreams of all generations in the territory would be nurtured and fully realized,” he stated.
“In this 115th Flag Day, we again reaffirm and rekindle our profound sense of patriotism and loyalty to the United States of American acknowledging with appreciation its continued benevolence.”
“The people of American Samoa’s deep rooted sense of patriotism is epitomized by our women and men who are in the armed forces of the United States of America and all the veterans of Samoan ancestry who have made countless ultimate sacrifices along with their unwavering commitment to heroic and exemplary service to safeguard Life, Liberty and the pursuant of Happiness.”
The United States flag was raised by Ms. Mary Hunkin Fruean who lost a son who served under the US military in Afghanistan and the American Samoan flag was raised by retired officer Bernadette Tilei and retired Sgt. Mai Filipo Ilaoa. True to military fashion, the ceremony also saw the raising of the service flags of the Us Army, the US Marine Corp, the US Navy, the US Air Force and the US Coastguard.
A moving moment of today’s ceremony came during the march pass when the veterans, some who whom were maimed and on wheelchairs as a result of their sacrifice but braved the sun to be part of the ceremony.
American Samoa’s 115th Flag Day celebrations ran for a good eight hours with entertainment and traditional presentations from the Military and Veterans, a siva by the Manu’a district, siva by the Eastern district, song by the western district with the finale from the energetic students of the Don Bosco Vocational College from Apia, Samoa.
It was to be the closing of the festivities, but the weather has changed the programme with the longboats race being moved to 6.00am tomorrow morning due to poor weather conditions yesterday.