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Quoting the well-known Veterans Salute, Reverend Liu Tofili of the CCCAS Fagamalo church delivered its message before a crowd of veterans, families and students gathered at the Veterans Memorial Stadium to honor veterans on their special day, yesterday morning.

“It is the veteran not the preacher who has given us the freedom of religion, it is the veteran not the reporter that has given us the freedom of the press, it is the veteran not the poet who has given us the freedom of speech, it is the veteran not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to assemble, it is the veteran not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial, it is the veteran not the politician who has given us the right to vote — and it is the veteran who salutes the flag,” the reverend stated, prior to conducting the opening prayer for Veterans Day, during a special ceremony hosted by the government.

The national and American Samoa anthems were sung by the Leone High School choir, who performed during the ceremonies, along with the Tafuna High School Choir.

The grandstand was packed with military retirees from the Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force — some were in full uniform, some wore pins, and some wore hats which identified which branches of the service they had served.

Mrs. Ipu Avegalio Lefiti, a retiree with the US Army, read the Proclamation for Veterans Day signed by Gov. Togiola Tulafono.

According to the proclamation, “Today American Samoans continue to serve our country in these perilous times of  terrorism and war. Many of them willingly entered harms way to fight for our freedom. By their service, they keep America strong. 

“On Veterans’ Day, let us pause to reflect on the sacrifice of all of those who have put on the uniform to serve in the United States military. Let us honor our veterans who proved their heroism and love of country time and again.

“Our nation will... ‘be grateful for the noble sacrifices’, which can never be adequately repaid.”

The governor in his remarks noted that America is founded on liberty, opportunity and justice for all. “We take off our hats and salute all our veterans.”

Togiola noted that “some of our veterans have have now passed on to better lives, and many have given the ultimate sacrifice. We salute them this day, and their families that may be here or watching these programs.” 

He said by answering the call of duty and risking their lives, their fellow country men are veterans, the patriots of all time.

“They have inspired our nation with their courage, and passion and their dedication to duty,” he said.

Togiola added  — “to the Veterans who had served on the land, at sea, and in the air from the shores of Omaha Beach, to the  jungles of Vietnam, the sands of the Persian Gulf, the mountains of Afghanistan and Iraq and all the other battlefields around the globe— thank you.”

Veterans have helped shape the American character, the governor stated.

He acknowledged the growth of the JROTC within the high schools, continuing to point to veterans as inspirations. “These young people who have been inspired by you and are committed to changing their character of citizenship and service... from watching you, from listening to you, thank you.

The Governor challenged the Veterans to form a Teacher Association to assist teachers.

“I asked veterans as I have in the past — that I believe you still are the better teachers, if you could only organize a substitute teacher service to help our Department of Education, to help our private schools to fill in the gaps, to fill the void when there is a need for a teacher to step up when regular teachers cannot make it for one reason or another.”

“Veterans, organize yourself into a substitute teachers core to share your values, to share your experiences, to share your knowledge and to share your character with our children. You are among the best teachers in the world and you are American Samoans,” said Togiola.