Territory set to honor war dead on Memorial Day
American Samoa joins the rest of the nation Monday observing Memorial Day and local residents are hoping for good weather, after some heavy rain and high winds have been causing hazardous conditions island-wide since early in the week.
Extended to a three-day weekend, it is a federal and local holiday for most of the nation’s workers. It also marks the official start of summer.
The National Weather Service in Tafuna is forecasting that the current strong winds and rain will decrease by Saturday, and the sun will come out heading into the long weekend.
To get the latest weather update for the territory, residents are asked to continue monitoring local radio stations.
The government’s annual Memorial Day program, which is usually held in conjunction with a service at the Satala cemetery, will be held this year at the ASG traditional Samoan guest fale, Faletele, at Suigaula o le Atuvasa at Utulei Beach. The program is to begin at 8 a.m. on Monday. Details of the program should be released today by the Veterans Affairs Office under the jurisdiction of the Governor’s Office.
Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is observed on the last Monday in May commemorating U.S. men and women who died while in military service.
In his Memorial Day message, titled “Lest We Forget”, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said that on this Memorial Day, “we remember and honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to America and American Samoa. As we cherish their memories, let us honor their legacies, for they have given us the strength to live on into the future.”
“As we gather in our island home this Memorial Day weekend with family and friends to give thanks and to visit the land of their final resting place, or honor the spirit of their unselfish contribution to our lives and the freedom that we continue to enjoy, let us celebrate and give thanks to God for the blessings of liberty and remember our loved ones and those who made it possible,” he said.
He invites the people of American Samoa to attend the Monday government service at Utulei Beach “in remembrance of those who have made a difference in our lives.”
Many local residents use the Memorial weekend to clean and decorate grave sites island-wide. By Monday morning, flowers — fresh and plastic — with other decorations will adorn the island’s freshly painted or cleaned graves.
A common sight throughout the territory on this day will be U.S. and American Samoa flags paying tribute to our fallen soldiers. Originally held in commemoration of soldiers killed in the American Civil War (1868), the observance of Memorial Day later extended to all U.S. service men and women who died in war.
National observance of Memorial Day is marked by placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Here in the Territory, federal and local government offices will close on Monday, including the US Post Office. The two private financial institutions and the majority of local businesses will also close. StarKist Samoa, however, will continue operations.
Gov. Togiola Tulafono has already declared Monday a government holiday and all employees required to work will be paid in accordance with laws and regulations.
Reports yesterday from the Pago Pago International Airport indicate very busy traffic between the two Samoas since yesterday. Flights will get even busier early next week as more people head to Samoa for their 50th Independence celebration set for May 31 to June 3.
Samoa News weekend edition To’asavili will publish tomorrow as usual, but will not publish on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.