The CNMI need not look far to see concrete examples of the heroism of first responders.
From the heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the same selfless acts 18 years after remain evident among the first responders of the CNMI.
“You see these sacrifices from our first responders, especially in the last three years when the CNMI has gone through several strong typhoons,” said Tan Siu Lin Foundation vice chair and TanHoldings chief executive officer Jerry Tan.
Speaking at the We Will Never Forget: Field of Heroes ceremony on Rota last week, Tan recalled that when the CNMI was devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu last year, “our firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and other first responders assisted families and left theirs. They, too, were greatly affected by these calamities, but, up to this day, you see them helping out in the rebuilding process.”
The We Will Never Forget: Field of Heroes ceremony was originally conceived as a 9/11 commemoration but has since evolved to also honor veterans, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders.
Last week, the TSL Foundation, the charitable arm of TanHoldings, teamed up with the Rota Mayor’s Office and Hotel Valentino in holding the ceremony at the Joe G. Charfauros Veterans Memorial Park.
The ceremony included a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute, and the sounding of sirens.
“We are here not only to commemorate 9/11, but also to recognize the work and commitment of our local heroes for saving our lives and protecting us. You make us, the people of the Commonwealth, proud of your service,” Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig said.
Aubry Hocog, the Rota Mayor’s Office special assistant for program and grants, closed out the ceremony last Sept. 17 with a heartfelt message to the honorees.
“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers that they are graced with. Thank you for choosing your path to serve, for looking after us. The path you chose is not easy,” she said.
Meanwhile, the ceremony on Tinian was held last Sept. 18 at the Veterans Memorial Park, with Tan joining Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan, other island leaders and Capt. Joseph A. Santos at the 9/11 commemoration.
“While 9/11 maybe one of the darkest days in our lives, it also brought out the best in our people, as brave ones risked their lives to save others,” Aldan said.
He also thanked the men and women who answer the call of duty, adding that while we are comfortable and safe at home, they are out somewhere, confronting danger and uncertainties.
Santos reiterated the importance of remembering and honoring our heroes.
“Never forget. They did not run away, they ran into destructions and gave up their lives. If we do forget, their sacrifices will be wasted,” the Army veteran said. (PR)