In honor of CNMI veterans who have already passed away, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead in having concrete benches installed at the CNMI Veterans Cemetery.
Last Friday, the 60th Commemoration Committee of World War II, in coordination with the Armed Forces Committee of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, did a ribbon cutting ceremony for four new benches at the cemetery.
American Red Cross NMI Chapter executive director John Hirsch told the attendees that the benches would benefit those who pay their respects to the fallen warriors at the cemetery.
“These improvements are a step forward to enhancing our veterans cemetery,” he said.
According to Bryan Clayton, who chairs the Armed Forces Committee of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the project was in the works for about five months before they finally to an agreement that benches would be a good addition to the cemetery.
“We were really looking for something that was fitting for the area and to make it where it wasn’t too obtrusive and that it would fit in and the benches were one of the many ideas that came up and it was the one we decided on,” he said.
Clayton said the benches not only enhances the area but also provide seats for visitors. “It now provides a place for family, friends, and visitors who come here to kind of reflect and sit in a nice place and just relax,” he said.
According to Clayton, the overall cost of the project was more of less $5,000. “These benches are all made from scratch,” he added.
When asked if additional benches would be added, Clayton said that further improvements entail adding more benches but they are also looking at other improvement projects. “We have a couple other projects that we’re looking at. It may entail adding more benches, but we have some other ideas,” he said.
Also present at the ribbon cutting ceremony was Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan), who was there to both support the enhancements and to visit a veteran loved one with her sister, Lucy Deleon Guerrero.
According to Deleon Guerrero, mother to a fallen soldier, she is glad that families of fallen veterans are now provided a place where they are able to sit and relax while visiting loved ones. “When we come and visit, there’s no place for us to sit. This would be very helpful to us,” she said.
Igitol is thankful to the Chamber that worked to install the benches. “We thank them very much for this donation to the veteran’s families. It’s very convenient,” she said.