The Tan Siu Lin Foundation and TanHoldings Corp. led a community effort to mark the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks by honoring its victims and first responders last Monday at the American Memorial Park.
The second Field of Heroes ceremony last Monday capped a commemoration that took place not just on Saipan but also on Rota and Tinian, honoring the islands’ heroes and the those who have given their lives to protect the United States.
The Saipan commemoration started with the Freedom Walk, a walkathon participated in by the public from the Garapan Fishing Base to the American Memorial Park.
The event, which got started a year ago under the auspices of TanHoldings, entails the posting of American flags that are sponsored by community members. The money goes toward raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and supports the treatment of those with PTSD.
According to Tan Holdings president Jerry Tan, he had vowed to visit all three islands to pay tribute to not only the 9/11 heroes but also to those individuals who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I promised myself that I’m going to go to all three islands on 9/11 every year because this is so important to everyone,” said Tan.
He said the event is not new; it’s been adopted from practices across the United States, yet it has become extremely important to him.
“This is something that many cities in the United States have been doing for many years…we kind of adopted the franchise…this is very important to me personally, for our company, because we will never forget,” said Tan.
The ceremony not only honors the heroes who fought for the United States and are still fighting for it but it is also a tribute to the many heroes who lost their lives during 9/11.
“9/11 was probably the most important major attack on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor and it changed the world,” Tan said. “It is very important that we come together once a year in this setting and salute those first responders.”
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said the community’s effort is what keeps the Field of Heroes’ ceremony meaningful. “Your presence here tells us a lot about us today, that we can do and we can come together to recognize, remember, and honor those among us who commit themselves to helping others,” said Apatang.
Although heroes come and go over the years, he said, those who first responded on Sept. 11, 2001, will remain heroes forever.
“Our heroes when the first attack occurred on the morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001, remain our heroes since then and still today, and for the years to come,” said Apatang.
Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas said the importance of the event is that it celebrates those men and women who face the fears that many other do not during a crisis.
“This Field of Heroes, we fly our flags in honor of those who face our fears for us during times of great tragedy,” said San Nicolas.
He thanked the Tan Siu Lin Foundation for its efforts in bringing awareness of the event to all three islands.
Tan thanked the Commonwealth government for granting him the opportunity to take the lead in this annual event.
“I would like to thank the community and the government officials for allowing us, and our company, to lead this project,” he said.