THANKSGIVING, 2013 —“WE HAVE BEEN ABUNDANTLY BLESSED BY GOD”
Tomorrow, American Samoa joins the United States, her territories, military bases, embassies and citizens around the world in commemorating Thanksgiving Day, a celebration established by early pilgrims who left Europe to settle in America to escape persecution and seek out religious freedom.
George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War.
Although it was previously celebrated on the last Thursday in November — which occasionally was a fifth Thursday — Thanksgiving Day is presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. This date was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, and approved by Congress in 1941.
Locally, the day before Thanksgiving will be a busy day in the town area, with the 10a.m. Fautasi Race Ocean Challenge as well as Day-Two of the Farm Fair at Suigaula o le Atuvasa at Utulei Beach. The fair opened yesterday and today’s program includes a speech by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and the awarding of prizes for the fair.
While taro is the focus of the Farm Fair, Agriculture Department director Lealao M. Purcell said yesterday that what’s important to the department is to open up the fair to all farmers and all the different produce now being grown in the territory.
Compared to last year’s fair, Lealao said this year’s event shows more diverse produce on display and “we are hoping that future fairs will attract many more varieties of locally grown produce by our farmers.”
He said that he is very pleased to see many farmers growing taro and bananas as this is another source of money for families, who can sell this produce to the School Lunch program, which is administered by the Department of Education.
Judging at the fair began late yesterday afternoon and prizes along with awards will be announced today.
Like the rest of the nation, many local residents tomorrow will mark Thanksgiving with prayers and celebrations in gatherings that include families and friends, as well as religious get-togethers. Residents will enjoy the holiday with visits to parks and beaches throughout the territory.
In his first Thanksgiving message as chief executive, Governor Lolo said that with so much suffering being reported around the globe, and most recently the agony, misery, and distress experienced by the people of the Philippines, “it becomes obvious that we have been abundantly blessed by God”.
“So on this Thanksgiving Day, let us not neglect to offer our prayers, not only thanking God for his continued blessings on the people of American Samoa, but also beseeching God to please instill His comfort in the troubled and grief-stricken hearts of His children living in suffering all over the world,” he said. (The governor’s message is printed elsewhere in today’s edition.)
Because of the holiday, all American Samoa government offices will be closed tomorrow, which has been declared by Lolo as the only day to be celebrated as Thanksgiving holiday for the government. All ASG employees are to return to work on Friday.
Exceptions are: All ASG employees required to work on the holiday will be compensated in accordance with local laws, and Education Department deputy director Russell Aab said Friday will also be a holiday for public school students, but teachers and administrators — as well as all government employees — are required to return to work.
Samoa News has learned that some ASG employees plan to take Friday off as part of their vacation leave.
In the meantime, reports from the Tafuna airport indicate busy traffic for the inter Samoa route as Polynesian Airlines is the only carrier operating, while Inter Island Airways’ aircraft is down this week due to mechanical issues.
The majority of local businesses will be closed tomorrow, including all federal offices plus the U.S. Post Office, and the two private banks — Bank of Hawaii and ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank. Many business and retail establishments will resume operations on Friday, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
StarKist Co. corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said StarKist Samoa will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday and business will resume on Monday, Dec. 2.
With the holiday, police will increase their presence island-wide to ensure a safe and happy holiday for all residents of the territory. Police are urging residents to celebrate wisely — urging them to remember: “Do not drink and drive”.
Some local restaurants have Thanksgiving specials tomorrow to take the burden off cooking at home. A few stores are also providing specials for those who do not have time to cook by preparing the usual Thanksgiving meals to be picked up. (See today’s advertisements in Samoa News for more information).
And don’t forget the popular Thanksgiving Macy’s Day parade in New York City, which will be televised for the enjoyment of all.
Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season, with the next day, Black Friday, officially beginning holiday shopping. In today’s edition of Samoa News are advertisements from local businesses dealing with Black Friday — American Samoa style.
Samoa News will not publish tomorrow but will return on Friday to its normal schedule.
Have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving to all from Samoa News management and staff.