Officials at the ceremony at the American Memorial Park yesterday cited the local scouts that aided U.S. Marines in weeding out the Japanese resistance on island after World War II, to those who formally wore the uniform and served in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq and other military operations since then.
“I am proud to say and thank [all those who served] and continue to serve today,” said Veterans and Military Affairs office director Joseph M. Palacios. “It is because of all our veterans here and abroad that we are able to be here today because of their work to keep America safe. We know that freedom is not free.”
“To be a member of our uniformed services isn’t for everyone…the job they have is not an easy one,” said acting governor Ralph DLG Torres. “Every so often they are called to action when they least expect it. Indeed it is a task not for everyone but it is a task they do with pride and honor…we salute them, for it is because of their service that we are who we are today: Free.”
“To the members of our veterans and all those here today…I ask one request: Never stop showing gratitude to these individuals,” the acting governor said.
Keynote speaker Lt. Col. Gregorio M. Sablan of the U.S. Army said he is honored to commemorate “those before us who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that peace and honor will prevail and to give thanks to those that have served with quiet honor and dignity.”
It has been 70 years since World War II ended in 1945. The Marianas played a key role in America’s victory over Japan, flying U.S. planes from Saipan and Tinian for bombing raids over Japan.
“Saipan played a pivotal role in quickly ending the war against Japan from the air bases in Saipan and Tinian. The B-29 Super Fortress flew bombing missions to Japan and also…the Enola Gay dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which quickly ended the war and the surrender of Japan,” Sablan said.
“Let us also not forget our local Marine scouts made up of local and Carolinians in assisting the Marines in weeding out the remaining Japanese resistance on island. And also consider at the time the local police force. Let us not forget them but remember them as well for their sacrifices.
“…We answered the call and we never backed down in the defense of our country…I pray that there will be peace throughout the world but sadly and unfortunately we live in a world of many uncertainties.
“I ask you all when you see a veteran, our sons and daughters in uniform, greet them and say thank you for your service. That goes a long way for a veteran like myself. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur once said, ‘Old soldiers never die, they just simply fade away.” We should never forget,” Sablan said.
Officials also thanked Veterans Affairs staff Bernie Dela Cruz and chair Jennifer Guerrero for their hard work in the program.
Marianas High School Chorus and the Saipan Pacific Winds band also performed during yesterday’s ceremony. (With THOMAS MANGLONA II)