Being located in what is known as the “typhoon alley” in the Pacific, the CNMI is heavily dependent on the services of first responders and nowhere was this more evident than during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yutu last year.
This lifesaving role of the Commonwealth’s first responders and law enforcers were the highlight of yesterday’s signing of the proclamation that declared the week of Sept. 9 as Field of Heroes Recognition Week.
Although initially intended to remember the victims of the terror attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, the hundreds of emergency responders, and the families who lost loved ones in the devastating events of that day, the Field of Heroes event has evolved to also honor the CNMI’s local heroes—veterans, military men and women, first responders, and law enforcement officers.
Upon signing the proclamation, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres acknowledged that Sept. 11, 2001, changed all lives in the CNMI, changed national security, and, with the mass shootings happening across the nation, it is even more important that law enforcement and first responders work together.
“Here on our islands, as peaceful as it is, I’m afraid that it’s a matter of time before something happens,” Torres said.
Calamities like Yutu, where first responders, police officers, firefighters, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Department of Defense joined forces to help rebuild the island, served as a testament to the importance of that collaboration.
Jerry Tan, chief executive officer of TanHoldings, the corporate arm of the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, which started Field of Heroes, recalled how impactful first responders were in the island’s Yutu recovery.
“We don’t need to remind people the importance of what our first responders are doing for the community every day,” Tan said. “Post-typhoon, they are out 24/7. Even into the evening, when there was no power, they were still out there, protecting us and trying to help us to recover.”
As part of the “2019 We Will Never Forget: Field of Heroes” ceremony, United States flags will be on display at the American Memorial Park on Saipan from Sept. 8 to 16, the Veterans Memorial Park on Tinian from Sept. 2 to 18; and at the Corporal Joe G. Charfauros Jr. Rota Veterans Memorial Park on Rota from Sept. 6 to 12.
Those who would want to donate will receive or have a 3’x5’ flag flown to honor whoever they want. Donations may be dropped off at Shirley’s Coffee Shop in Garapan or Susupe, the Tan Siu Lin Foundation office at the second floor of the JP Center on Beach Road, the mayor’ offices on Tinian and Rota, and at the Hotel Valentino’s front desk on Rota.
Net proceeds from the event will go to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council to support programs that help community heroes and their families.