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2012 FLAG DAY DAWNS WITH CLEAR SKYS, HIGH SPIRITS

fili@samoanews.com
The US Marine Band and DPS Honor Guard lead off the pass in review today during the opening of Flag Day 2012 festivities, April 17, 2012. [photo: TG]

Groups and schools in their colorful uniforms gathered early today at Veterans Memorial Stadium for day one of the two-day 2012 Flag Day celebration, marking 112 years since the United State Flag was raised over Tutuila island.

Without a hint of early morning rain, the sun rose as participants in the Flag Day parade assembled onto the stadium’s green field to await the arrival of VIPs, dignitaries and guests for the annual ceremony, attended by several off-island guests.

This year’s celebration is dedicated to Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who delivered his last Flag Day address. He is barred under local law from seeking a third consecutive term in office. The governor said American Samoa has been left as an  unorganized and unincorporated territory for the last 112 years.

“I ask you - are you happy with that? Is that a political status that you would like your children to grow up in," he asked? “I say this, life has been good but if we have any pride we must seek to change that political status.”

He said all countries -  major and minor - have changed their political status, so that they can be truly self-governing with self-determination.

“The time has come to rise up and determine for ourselves what it is that we want to do. But self determination will never come, self governance will not happen if we do not rise together and work together,” he points out.

Although it was not on the official Flag Day program,  Secretary of Samoan Affairs Lefiti A. Pese responded on behalf of the territorial government to the governor’s address. Lefiti thanked Togiola for his many years in office from which the territory has benefited. He also thanked the governor’s wife, Mary Ann for her support of the governor.

Part of the program was taking the Oath of Enlistment for some 30 new military recruits. The oath was administered by Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruiting Commender at Quantico, Virginia.  He was accompanied by Togiola.

Also on the program was the commissioning of the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 28, a local volunteer organization that supports the Coast Guard unit in the territory.  Togiola along with U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Charles Ray, Pacific Region Commander of the Hawai’i based Coast Guard District 14th presided over this ceremony.

The afternoon program called for Samoan traditional siva and pese (dance and song). The Flag Day festivities continue tomorrow around 8a.m. with the International Fautasi Race that will include one fautasi from Samoa.  Thereafter the program continues with more Samoan siva and pese followed by the closing ceremony.

More details of today’s events in tomorrow’s edition of Samoa News.



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