Photos: Forefathers’ wisdom made today possible
In his first Flag Day address as chief executive, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga paid tribute to the territory’s forefathers who were united in their foresight to have these eastern Samoan islands be part of the United States family.
Lolo then called on American Samoa to come together in unity — the theme of this year’s Flag Day — as the territory moves forward into the future. He also paid tribute to the first elected governors of American Samoa.
Lolo said in 1900 leaders of Tutuila and Aunu’u “made a giant leap of faith and entrusted the future of our people” into the care of the U.S. government and four years later, the leaders of the Manu’a islands joined the U.S. family.
“It is this collective wisdom of our forefathers, inspired by the Divine Guidance, which has made it possible for us to enjoy the freedom and privileges not readily available to all citizens of the the world,” he said.
He pointed out that Flag Day is a celebration where American Samoa shows its “deep sense of patriotism and pride of being Americans.” Additionally, Flag Day “personifies our relationship, freely fashioned without any military conquest and an association evolved out of the concern of our forefathers to fortify the future social and economic security of our people.”
So on Flag Day, “not only do we celebrate and pay tribute to our forefathers, for being forward thinkers, but for their foresight, their wisdom and above all, their love, which gave rise to all the benefits which we enjoy today,” he said.
Lolo also said that the collective wisdom of American Samoa’s ancestors “would not be possible if there was no unity of purpose among our forefathers. They individually transcended their own personal desires and opted to advance the overall welfare of the people. This is the lesson that we should and must emulate.”
“Our leadership position exists because of the people. Hence all of our efforts should be directed and dedicated to the service of our people,” he said. “This aspiration is only possible if there is unity among the leaders... with devotion to one single goal — of improving the quality of the lives of our people.”
For this year’s celebration “let us all commit to the notion that overcoming significant challenges that lie before us... is only dependent on our commitment to establish unity among our leaders, our community, and among our people,” Lolo said.
“When we look forward to the future with confidence and hope, we must never forget the wisdom of the past that facilitates our today and our tomorrows,” the governor told the audience of more than 3,000 at the stadium. The stadium event was televised on KVZK-TV and aired on local radio stations.
“Therefore, on behalf of the people of American Samoa,” Lolo paid “tribute and sole compliment and appreciation” to the late former governors Uifaatali Peter Coleman, A.P. Lutali and Tauese P.F. Sunia as well as former governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono for their leadership and foresight, which has afforded him the privilege and the opportunity to address the community as current governor.
He acknowledged with appreciation the leadership provided by the Legislature and the Judicial branches of government as well as Congressman Faleomavaega Eni and Nikolao Pula, executive director of the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs “for continuing to champion our cause.”
To these leaders, Lolo said, “the future of our territory is in our collective hands, and our success depends on creating unity” in regards to the direction “our government should pursue”.
He then thanked the business community for “their resilience, despite difficult economic times in trying to stay afloat and protect the jobs for our people.”
The governor shared with the public that the government is endeavoring to establish a “workable and meaningful” partnership with the private sector by making sure that the business environment “is favorable and free of red tape.”
The governor’s address was made at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, the main venue of the Flag Day celebration. It was followed by the parade in review and traditional siva and pese in the afternoon.