The Stallion Battalion of the Tinian Jr./Sr. High School’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps joined the Tinian community at the Veterans Memorial Park last Sept. 18 for the Field of Heroes: We Will Never Forget ceremony.
The event, intended to mark the 18th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, memorializing those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack, and to honor first responders.
Private corporation TanHoldings has been hosting the event for four years now, with the support of the Tinian Mayor’s Office.
Jovita Paulino from the Office of the Tinian Mayor was the mistress of ceremonies. Fr. Rey Rosal did the invocation.
The Department of Public Safety-Tinian color guard posted the flags, with the national anthem and CNMI anthem sung by battalion cadets Sgt. Cielo Long and Sgt. Isa Ha’ani Long.
In his opening remarks, Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan gave thanks to Tan Holdings, Tania Mendiola, the Tinian Mayor’s Office staff, Tinian JROTC, Department of Public Safety, and Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and to everyone who supported the event despite the weather.
The guest speaker for the ceremony, TanHoldings president Jerry Tan, said the event is also fitting occasion to “pay tribute and remind everyone to say ‘thank you’ and appreciate our first responders.”
The island’s elected leaders, both from the Tinian Legislative Delegation and the Tinian Municipal Council, joined Aldan and Tan in laying wreaths at the Veterans Memorial Park.
A team from DPS-Saipan did the 21-gun salute. Taps was then played, followed by the simultaneous water salute and a sounding of the one-minute siren
To close off the ceremony, Capt. (ret.) Joseph Santos, the senior army instructor of the Tinian JROTC Stallion Battalion, related the inspiring story of Patrick Tilma, who gave up a $3.6 million contract with the National Football League Arizona Cardinals to enlist as an Army ranger. He served in Iraq, but was killed in Afghanistan.
“Never forget. There were 2,977 people who were killed that morning. Their only crime was going to work. Never forget. There were 342 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers who died that day. They didn’t run away, they ran to the destruction. They gave up their lives helping others. Never forget. Some people in Congress now are trying to get us to forget. They say ‘some people did something’. Shame on them. That something was a destruction and a murder of 2,977 people. Who did it? It was Islamic terrorists. We should not be afraid to call them what they are. Never forget. 9/11 is our generation’s Pearl Harbor. When Pearl Harbor happened, America wasn’t ready. When 9/11 happened, we were not ready. Let us never forget. …If we forget, then Patrick Tilman’s sacrifice will be wasted, those firefighters and law enforcement’s sacrifice will be wasted. Ladies and gentlemen, let us Never Forget,” Santos said. (PR)