National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey

fili@samoanews.com

American Samoa observed a moment of silent on Friday, Sept. 1, during the annual Workforce Appreciation Day, to remember and pray for victims and survivors of Hurricane Harvey, which left behind devastation and destruction impacting communities on the Gulf Coast of the US mainland, especially in many areas of Texas.

The 10-second moment of silence at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, where hundreds of participants from both private and public sector as well as spectators and others, were called by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga at the outset of his special remarks, saying that a proclamation was forthcoming from US President Donald Trump following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which claimed many lives.

The governor didn’t elaborate on Trump’s proclamation but noted that there are Samoan families in areas hit by the hurricane.

And at the start of his keynote address, American Samoa Power Authority executive director Utu Abe Malae said, “Our prayers are with those thousands of families and businesses suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.” (See upcoming issues of Samoa News for details of Utu’s address.)

The city of Houston is one of the hard-hit areas in Texas. And Utu said there are many Samoan families living in Houston as well as areas of Louisiana impacted by the hurricane.

As the Workforce Appreciation Day ceremony got underway around 8a.m. local time in American Samoa, the White House released Trump’s Sept. 1 directive proclaiming, Sunday, Sept. 3, as a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and for the country’s National Response and Recovery Efforts.

“We give thanks for the generosity and goodness of all those who have responded to the needs of their fellow Americans,” said Trump who urged “Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers [on Sept. 3] for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey, including people who have lost family members or been injured, those who have lost homes or other property, and our first responders, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and medical professionals leading the response and recovery efforts.”

“I call on all Americans and houses of worship throughout the Nation to join in one voice of prayer, as we seek to uplift one another and assist those suffering from the consequences of this terrible storm,” he said.

Hurricane Harvey first made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the evening of Aug. 25, according to the proclamation. And the storm has since devastated communities in both Texas and Louisiana, claiming many lives, inflicting countless injuries, destroying or damaging tens of thousands of homes, and causing billions of dollars in damage, it says.

The Associated Press quotes state authorities saying last Friday morning that 39 people are confirmed dead so far from Harvey and 19 are still believed to be missing. But more bodies are likely to be found.

Back in American Samoa, the governor told the audience at the stadium that it was five years ago that the Administration decided, agreed to and held this special event to honor American Samoa’s workforce, who for over many years were not properly recognized and honor for their service to the people and the government of American Samoa.

On Workforce Appreciation Day, Lolo said this celebration honors all those who serve in various capacities across all sectors of the community — in families, churches, villages, territorial government, private sector and even those who serve locally in the federal government. And the workforce also includes farmers, fishermen, and members of the clergy.

He also says that this special day gives each individual person time to sit down and reflect on his or her service to American Samoa as a whole. He said God had given each person a responsibility and the job to do, adding that if improvement is needed in doing that job, “do so at this time, as the world we live in continues to change.”

He says that if a worker is not true on the job, and maybe the boss does not know, but God knows all. For example, a worker clocks in at 6a.m. while the starting time is three-hours later. This practice, says Lolo, causes the kind of problems with the US Labor Department that ASG is faced with now. He recommended to workers to do their job right and do it with happiness and “do it honestly.”

According to the governor, those who serve the territory — workers — have contributed to the changes and betterment of American Samoa on a daily basis. He acknowledged that each worker, including himself and the lieutenant governor, have encountered difficulties and mistakes, is doing their job, but it’s important to learn from those mistakes and improve “ourselves in our service.”

As in past events, a moment was silence was observed for the local workforce who have passed away in the last 12 months since the last Workforce Appreciation Day. Names of the nearly 20 ASG employees from 10 government agencies were publicly read. There were no name submissions from the private sector, who were asked to provide names in advance of Friday’s event.

By 8:45a.m. the official opening ceremony was completed, and then came the parade, which included floats. This followed games including the popular tug-of-war, followed by entertainment by a senior citizens group from the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) and Nana’s Company.

Le. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga gave closing remarks, thanking all those who took part in the celebration as well as the entire local workforce. The closing ceremony got underway around 11:45, and the program went in accordance with the governor’s request that the celebration end at 12noon.

For ASG workforce, it was also a great day because it was payday since Monday is a local and federal holiday, Labor Day. So those who get papers checks received their pay Friday while employees with direct deposit got their money in the bank accounts Saturday morning.

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