Rota commemorated the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy last Monday as part of the nearly weeklong “We Will Never Forget: Field of Heroes” event hosted by the Tan Siu Lin Foundation.
Despite dark clouds looming in the horizon and roaring winds battering the Benjamin T. Manglona International Airport, retired Sgt. Major Herman M. Atalig brought a new air of hope when he served as guest speaker.
“I see disciplined cadets, I see disciplined firefighters and police. We see a lot of flags out there waving, resembling the freedom. Please join me and let’s give a big round of applause for all the organizers, the police, the cadets, and the firemen,” said Atalig.
Humility and respect came out from the retired U.S. Army veteran and former instructor of the ROTC. Atalig also thanked the hosts of the event, Tan Siu Lin Foundation.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to provide the special remarks commemorating the 15th year anniversary of the 9/11. My heart of appreciation goes to Ms. Aubrey [Hocog], the mayor’s project officer, for giving me the opportunity to participate and to the Tan Siu Lin Foundation for sponsoring this auspicious event. It is my hope that we continue this project for many more years to come,” he said.
Atalig expresses that any day is a good day for remembering those who have fallen serving the country. “It’s a beautiful day for Rota to honor the fallen of 9/11. Tonight, on the beautiful and peaceful island of Rota, thousands of miles from the tragic 9/11 tragedy, we are standing proudly and in unity witnessing a hundred flags waving as the sun sets,” he said.
“This is a testament that we will never forget the sacrifice of those that died and served as a reminder that life is too short and that there is no time to hate.”
Atalig reminisced about his time serving the country during the Vietnam War, where he saw people come together in an attempt to restore humanity amidst all the fighting.
“Fifteen years ago was one of the darkest days in American history. We witnessed on TV the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which was similar to a war zone. It reminds me of a combat zone in Vietnam, where I hear a lot of screaming, and people helping each other at the risk of their lives.”
Atalig took his speech as a window to honor and remember those who chose to serve and set aside their own personal safety for that of others. “The heroic acts of the police, fire department, doctors, nurses, and civilians demonstrate the core value of courage and humanity during the 9/11. Those memories would never be erased from my mind and the mind of the first responders and of the nation.”Atalig also extended his hopeful aura to those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“My heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the TSL Foundation for donating the proceeds to help first responders who are experiencing PTSD. The traumatic event of 9/11 resulted in tens of thousands suffering from PTSD. Those suffering from PTSD must know that they are not alone and there is hope for a better tomorrow,” said Atalig.
Closing his speech, Atalig once again offered respect to the everyday heroes of the community, making the CNMI a tranquil paradise to live in. “I would like to salute and honor the Rota Police Department, Fire and EMS, airport police, and our local heroes in the armed forces whose lives are at risk at a daily basis. These heroes continue to stand proud to preserve peace and to protect us from harm’s way. Ensuring that we would never have another 9/11.”