26 May 2014
- By Raquel C. Bagnol - [email protected] - Variety News Staff
THE commonwealth yesterday joined the rest of the nation in honoring servicemembers — including 16 from the CNMI — who made the ultimate sacrifice in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and other wars fought by the U.S.
Maj. Neal V. Fisher II, public affairs officer with the Marine Corps in Guam, in his keynote speech during the Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery in Marpi, said there are waiting lists in all of the branches of recruits who will be sent to boot camp and basic training as more men and women from the Marianas and other parts of the U.S. volunteer to serve in their nation’s military.
“We have awarded medals to many servicemembers, added their names to monuments and named buildings for them to honor them for their bravery, but nothing can ever replace the hole left by a fallen servicemember, and medals and ribbons cannot comfort the ones left behind,” Fisher said.
The Northern Marianas’ fallen, he said, are America’s fallen — ordinary people “who were called and responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times to protect a nation which has given everyone so much.”
He added, “We’re here to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen and remember the sacrifice of the heroes interred here, as well as those brave servicemembers who lie in peace elsewhere around the world.
“All that our fallen loved ones are asking is that we remember,” Fisher said, ending his address with a quote from John Maxwell Edmonds: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today.”
Gov. Eloy S. Inos in his remarks noted that the CNMI is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battles of Saipan and Tinian which will be held next month.
“This morning we join our proud and grateful nation to honor the brave buried in this field, as well as all our region’s fallen heroes as a reminder of just what kind of people we are — a people who will not stand for injustice, a people ready to be called upon when needed, to help those who need it most. We will continue to be this way until every weapon is put down, and until we can all finally live in peace and harmony.”
CNMI Military and Veteran Affairs office Director Vicente Camacho recognized the families of the heroes on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
“As we honor our fallen heroes, let us also recognize and give honor to the families for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make,” he said.
Families have had to face the uncertainty of everyday life when their husbands or wives are deployed, he added.
Yesterday’s Memorial Day commemoration was also attended by families and relatives of the CNMI’s fallen heroes who honored the graves of their loved ones with flowers, candles and flags.
The Saipan Pacific Winds Concert Band provided the pre- and post-ceremonial music while Press Secretary Angel Demapan served as the event emcee.