The CNMI community gathered yesterday at the American Memorial Park’s Court of Honor to pay tribute to veterans and their families, heroes who have served in times of war and in times of peace, who sacrificed their lives to help defend freedom in the United States.
The event honors the generations of men and women of the Marianas who have boldly served in the nation’s armed forces, including the more than 1,000 service members and veterans in the Commonwealth.
“Today we have a greater appreciation for what we have as Americans and the freedom we wake up to each and every day,” Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said. “We will not be free today if not for our military veterans, those who continue to serve and defend the principles of liberty and justice for all.”
Palacios also called on the community to take a moment to remember and honor all the brave sons and daughters of the Marianas who have given their lives in the name of freedom and democracy.
The keynote speaker at the event, U.S. Ambassador to Palau Amy J. Hyatt, also honored and thanked the veterans for standing up to protect the country. She reminded everyone, though, that the defense of freedom is everyone’s responsibility.
“Let us remember that the defense of freedom is not just for those in uniform,” Hyatt said. “Each of us shares that responsibility. We must all protect our freedom by maintaining them back home, by voting in elections, by speaking out against injustice, and by teaching our children what it means to be an American.”
The ambassador also stressed that “America’s strength comes not from the example of our power, but rather, it comes from the power of our example.”
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, who is a veteran himself, said the day is very important to veterans.
“I just want to wish all veterans well throughout the years and, hopefully, we will continue to work together here in the CNMI,” Apatang said, adding that veterans on the islands get together and work for the people of the CNMI.
The Veterans Day celebration is traditionally held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It was called “Armistice Day” at the end of World War I, with Nov. 11 commemorating the end of the conflict on that exact date and time. Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954.