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Veterans Day activities honor our ‘Toa o Samoa’

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG Veterans Affairs Office, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, held the government’s Veterans Day— Family Fun Day celebration, yesterday, ahead of Veterans Day, which is both a local and federal holiday.

Celebrations actually began Wednesday evening with a sunset memorial service at Veterans Memorial Center at the Tafuna Industrial Park — which was also the venue for yesterday’s Family Fun Day.

Gov. Lemanu P. S Mauga — a military veteran — in a Nov. 07 memorandum to cabinet members, said the Family Fun Day is in “honor of the brave men and women who have selflessly served and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.”

The governor has proclaimed today as the annual Veterans Day holiday in the territory and all government offices are closed.

In their honor the governor said, “Throughout our Nation’s history, countless brave men and women have donned our service uniforms and have answered the call to defend our cherished way of life. For centuries, our service members have never wavered and perform their duties with the utmost courage, devotion, and determination. Our Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers, both past and present, represent the very best of our Nation and Territory. As we look to our service members willing to pay the ultimate price, we are reminded that freedom comes at the greatest of costs.

“On this very special day of tribute, we honor and salute our veterans for their selfless and immeasurable service to our great Nation. The service of our veterans will never go unnoticed, and we honor their sacrifices as well as those of their families. Each and every veteran has our undying regard and appreciation.

 “On behalf of Lieutenant Governor Talauega and our families, we express our most sincere and unending gratitude to each and every patriot who has sworn to uphold our Constitution. We reaffirm our solemn commitment to support them as they continue to defend our way of life, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. We applaud all of our service members for their steadfast dedication and we commemorate our military traditions that have been passed down through the generations.

“Happy Veterans Day and God Bless America and our beloved Territory.”

In Arlington National Cemetery, Vice President Kamala Harris told the nation’s veterans Friday their work makes America stronger, as the administration announced new support for children who live with wounded service members.

Vice President Kamala Harris lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the National Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“Every day, through your life’s work and your example, you make America stronger,” she told the crowd. “On Veterans Day, we come together to express our profound gratitude for all you have done and you continue to do.”

The initiative, known as the Hidden Helpers Coalition, helps young people who act as caregivers and was announced by first lady Jill Biden, who hosted a breakfast for veterans on Friday before she, Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff came to the annual ceremony at the Virginia cemetery.

With President Joe Biden in Egypt for a United Nations conference on climate, it was Harris who placed the wreath in a somber ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is dedicated to deceased service members whose remains have not been identified. She arranged it carefully, fussing a bit with the ribbons to move them back in place after they were blown askew by the wind and rain.

From Egypt, Biden acknowledged the sacrifices of America’s veterans there.

“This day is a day of commemoration at home in the United States. It’s Veterans Day,” he said. “America’s veterans and their families, survivors and caregivers are the very spine and soul of the United States. And on this special day, on every day, I honor all those who sacrifice to our nation, like my son.”