Memorial Day was observed yesterday in the CNMI with not just honors and memories of departed servicemembers but also honors for their families, who continue to keep their memories alive.
A total of 112 families were honored yesterday at the Veterans Cemetery in Marpi, with all of the families being presented with floral decorations in honor of their family members who laid down their lives while serving the country in various conflicts since World War II.
Eloy Cabrera couldn’t help but get emotional as he described how important the last Monday of May is to his family.
“We remember my father, who served as a Marine scout during World War II,” he said.
His father, the late Gregorio C. Cabrera, according to the eldest of Eloy’s 12 siblings Linda T. Cabrera, was fluent in Japanese and assisted the U.S. forces against Japanese snipers hiding in the thick jungles of Saipan during World War II.
Cabrera said he and his family always attend the Memorial Day ceremony, to remember fallen soldiers who served not just during World War II, but even in the Vietnam War and the Korean War.
“We always come here to honor them and thank them for their service,” he said.
Lynn Tenorio, whose father, the late Antonio C. Tenorio, served during World War II, said that she visits both her parents’ graves annually. Her mother is buried next to her father. She was at yesterday’s ceremony with her husband and daughter.
She described yesterday’s commemoration as “a beautiful ceremony…[for] people who have committed to democracy and the fight for democracy.”
Tenorio noted that Memorial Day is important to everyone in the community since it is an opportunity to honor their fallen loved ones.
Veterans Affairs Office executive director Stanley Iakopo, who was also present at the ceremony, gave honor to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
“…There is no greater love than to give your life for another. Our fallen heroes have demonstrated that love, and that is what Memorial Day is all about,” he noted in a speech.
“It is also fitting that we gather here today to celebrate, remember, and honor,” he added.
The keynote speaker for the Memorial Day ceremony this year was Cdr. Harry Elliott IV, the Joint Region Marianas regional environmental and real-estate legal counsel and Defense Coordinating Officer West.
Elliott is also a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Component and is currently the Naval Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for Guam, among other designations.
“Memorial Day is one of the most important days of remembrance in the year. …It is very important that we take a moment to recognize all sacrifices, big or small, and [recognize] how each sacrifice contributes to making our nation a better place,” Elliott said.
“There have been many people both from here and who came here to make the ultimate sacrifice,” he added. “As we stop today and remember, we realize that each one of those contributes to how we live today and the freedoms we get to enjoy because of these sacrifices.”