CNMI EYES BUSH SR. FOR 2004 BATTLE ANNIVERSARY

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By Marian A. Maraya

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 11) - The CNMI next year will
host the 60th commemoration of the Battle of Saipan with a lineup of special
activities that local organizers will hype up as a major tourist attraction,
especially targeting U.S. mainland war veterans associations.

Press Secretary Peter A. Callaghan, who heads the media affairs
committee, said former President George Bush Sr. is being considered to be the
keynote speaker for the most significant historical event to unfold in the CNMI
in years.

"I don't want to say that there's a likelihood he would be
here, but we have some very good connections to his staff members and to him. I
know that he's going to the Philippines this October to attend the veterans'
reunion there, at the invitation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He's not
unfamiliar to this part of the world. He was a pilot out here during World War
II and he would be a wonderful keynote speaker," said Callaghan.

Aside from the elder Bush, other big names are also being
considered to be keynote speakers.

According to Callaghan, the 60th commemoration promises to be
even grander than the 50th, with organizers looking to fill every hotel room and
tourist attraction in Saipan next year.

The press secretary continued that the Veterans of Foreign Wars
in the Pacific areas are being persuaded to hold their convention here next
summer, around the same time as the Battle of Saipan celebration. Around 150
participants are expected to attend that convention.

First-rate media coverage of the series of commemoration events
is also expected, with the History and Discovery channels reportedly expressing
interest to cover the celebration. Arrangements are also underway to seek
coverage from CNN, among others, said Callaghan.

"We're hoping to have some air shows or some aesthetic
displays on the equipment here for the event. We're working already with
national advertising agencies. The Military Historic Tours Inc. has partnered
with us to promote this event. And the fact that we're a year ahead of the game
should help us to make this one of the major happenings on Saipan in many
years," he elaborated.

Budget for the entire celebration is dependent upon how much the
organizing committee can raise funds for the event, Callaghan explained.

He volunteered that one company, which he did not name, has
already pledged to donate $10,000 for the 60th celebration.

The organizing committee is expected to meet today to discuss
financial estimates.

June 11, 2003

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com 

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