Tears were again shed yesterday as families and friends of those who died in the line of duty remembered the sacrifices their loved ones made in protecting the nation during the Memorial Day commemoration at the Veterans Cemetery in Marpi.
Family members, with Taps being played in the background, took turns in laying down wreaths and lighting candles while the name of their fallen relative was read. Some could not contain their emotions in remembering the price it takes in protecting America’s freedom.
Linda T. Cabrera, whose parents Gregorio Camacho Cabrera and Scholastica T. Cabrera are among those buried at the cemetery, recalled how his father helped the U.S. Army find Japanese soldiers that remain hiding in the caves after World War II.
“My parents speak Japanese fluently. That’s why my dad worked as a scout after being hired by the Army to search the island if there are any Japanese who remain hiding in the caves and jungles of Saipan,” said Cabrera, who was the eldest of 13 kids.
“Being able to speak Japanese was one of the qualifications to become a scout marine. It was a risky but very important job. It’s soldiers like him who we are honoring today, especially those who died protecting our freedom,” she added.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and First Lady Diann Torres, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, and Lt. Col. Mihai Leta of the U.S. Coast Guard were some of the dignitaries who joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the community in the Memorial Day commemoration.
Torres, in his speech, thanked all the veterans and their families for all of their sacrifices. “We thank those who have left us. Those who sacrificed everything they have so that others may live in liberty and in the pursuit of happiness.”
Torres, who had the opportunity to join last Sunday’s Freedom Ride by the Matua Riders, said Memorial Day is not only for veterans who have already died but also to everyone who has been defending the nation’s freedom.
“Honor, remember, and salute all our heroes. Thank you for giving us the privilege to be free and enjoy this liberty. We will never forget,” he added.
Veterans Affairs Office executive director Gregorio Sablan Jr. said Memorial Day commemorates and pays tribute those men and women who are no longer with us. “We are all gathered to pay tribute for those who lay their lives to protect our freedom.”
“Freedom has its price and we will never forget the service that you gave. We also thank their families also for their sacrifices. We must also continue to honor those who are living that continue to fight for us to enjoy the freedom that we have today,” said Sablan.
The Saipan Southern High School Color Guard of the Manta Ray Battalion led the entrance of colors, while the Marianas High School Chorale sang the U.S. and CNMI national anthems.