LOLO'S MESSAGE TO VETERANS: YOU HAVE MADE US WHO WE ARE
“On Veterans Day, I urge the people of American Samoa to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our service Veterans who freely placed their lives in harms way so they can provide, protect and sustain the blanket of freedom which allows all of us Americans to enjoy all civil liberties that many of us have taken for granted and which continue to make the United States the greatest country and the envy of the world,” was the message of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, on the Veterans Program distributed among those who attended the Veteran’s Day service.
The Veterans Day ceremony yesterday ended a week full of activities for veterans with the “Freedom Ball” Saturday evening, and a Service at the Matuu and Faganeanea CCCAS under the leadership of Rev Chaplain, Captain Asiata Fouvale on Sunday. The Ceremony, which was televised was held at the Lions Park in Tafuna at the VA building where Veterans from all branches of the military attended.
Veterans Day was established by Congress in 1954 to replace Armistice Day, first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson, and designated to honor those who fought in World War I which was said to be “a war to end all war.”
This prompted Congress to insert the word Veterans in place of Armistice — to recognize and to honor all American Veterans, according to Governor Lolo’s message on the program.
He further noted that while a majority of Veterans being honored are no longer active, “they have assumed critical positions in our government and our community, becoming role models, instilling values of commitment, resilience, discipline and contributive citizens, reflective in their unwavering dedication in exemplifying these highest ideals of service to our Territory of American Samoa as well to our nation.”
President Barak Obama’s proclamation was read by 2nd Lt Ernest Haleck with the United States Marine Corps, while Retired SFC Ipu Avegalio Lefiti read Governor Lolo’s proclamation.
During his remarks the governor shared the story of how his eldest brother Tau had volunteered in the Army for his parents and family. Lolo recalled that back in the 50’s and 60’s growing up in Manu’a was difficult given that his family depended solely on their farm and the ocean as the means to raise a family.
“My oldest brother at the time after high school, volunteered to join the Army. At that time, there was no one working in my family and the only reason he decided to join the Army was for the sake of his parents and siblings,” said Lolo. He further noted that after several tours in Vietnam his older brother was wounded and later confined to a wheel chair.
The governor said he told his brother “one of these days, you’ll make us who we are.”
“To all the veterans, who we are and where we are today is the outcome of your duty, the fruits of your commitment and the result of your service. I challenge you today, you have only completed one phase of your duty, but you have a lifetime commitment to fulfill — which is to pass on the torch of freedom and hope to our next generation,” said Lolo.
He also acknowledged how honored he is to have selected Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga — a retired Major — to be his partner in politics, and a good number of veterans to be part of the government.
The Lt Governor was quoted in the Congressional Blog, called the Hill’s forum for lawmakers and policy professionals, saying that he’s proud to be not just lieutenant governor of American Samoa but honored to have served in both the Marine Corps and Army, retiring with the rank of major after 23 years of service.
“Recalling those who I served with in the War on Terrorism and the Persian Gulf War, I know that, as important as this day is, we should be finding ways to honor and support veterans every other day of the year as well.
My fellow American Samoan veterans have played an important and continuing role in America’s storied military history. We are proud to have continued the tradition of service by our ancestors in the U.S. armed services.
But that tradition has come at a high price, he said as American Samoans have fought and lost their lives following the September 11 terrorist attacks at a higher per capita rate than any other state or region in the nation.”
Read more of the Lt Governor’s op-ed on the Opinion page.