Rotary Club & Hawaiian Airlines host annual Tsunami Memorial service

tony@samoanews.com

This past Saturday morning at the Lions Park in Tafuna, the Rotary Club of Pago Pago in conjunction with Hawaiian Airlines hosted their annual memorial service, to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those who were lost in the Tsunami of Sept. 29, 2009. It also provides a time for the survivors of the tsunami — especially the families and friends of the victims — to reflect on their own lives since the tragedy that took 34 lives in the territory, and more than 100 in neighboring Samoa.

Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and First Lady Cynthia Moliga attended the memorial service as honored guests.

Master of Ceremonies was Tapumanaia Galu Satele, who welcomed the honored guests, families and friends, noting “we gather in humble gratitude to our Heavenly Father for his many blessings for his comfort, and his love.” 

During her special remarks, the president of the Rotary Club of Pago Pago, Margie Tafiti spoke with deep emotion as she too was nearly a victim of this tragedy, and during her speech, she said, “Let us take this time to reflect on our loved ones, families and friends, who we lost and are no longer with us.”

She said, “Let us learn that we should always take the time to appreciate the ones around us who we love, families and friends we cherish everyday and we can’t be afraid to express those feelings — one never knows when a tragedy will come before us.”

Tafiti acknowledged, “Our loved ones, our friends who left with the regrets of a thousand words — let us remember that tragic day,” poignantly noting, “I should know because I survived, and I lost my niece.”

The Rotary president said, “I escaped death on that day, but my niece took it for me.”

She thanked all those who helped to make these memorials possible every year, “all the companies, families and friends who worked so hard to make this day possible. Thank you for the love you’ve shown to those we have lost, and for always being kind and loving towards our loved ones.”

Hawaiian Airlines representative Marvis Vaiagae offered brief remarks during the ceremony, on behalf of the airlines, “Talofa and Aloha from Hawaiian Airlines – on behalf of Hawaiian Airlines Company and our CEO Mark Duckley, as well as our Pago Pago Station Manager, Tuli Fruean and our Assistant Station Manager, Sia Burgess along with the entire staff of Hawaiian Airlines company here in American Samoa and abroad, we would like to thank everyone who are here today.”

He added, “We would like to thank the Rotary Club for allowing us to be part of this morning’s ceremony – as many of you experienced this tragic day, I’m sure everyone has their own version to tell of this tragedy – Hawaiian Airlines played their part to show how they wanted to share that burden because they do believe that they are a part of our ohana.”

Vaiagae explained Hawaiian Air’s role during the relief efforts, which included “a very special relief flight to bring over some supplies, medical, food and medics as well as other necessities that would be to the benefit of the support and efforts during the launching of the aftermath tsunami here in American Samoa.”

Included in their relief efforts, Vaiagae pointed out that many of “your brothers and sisters or relatives that do work for Hawaiian Air” took “leave and volunteered their service to participate in the relief efforts.”

He concluded, “We consider everyone to be family.”

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