American Samoa Celebrates Flag Day

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114 years since territory became part of U.S.

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 17, 2014) – American Samoa today marks the 114th year since these Eastern Samoan islands became part of the United States family and Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie will deliver the Flag Day Address.

Also speaking at the ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna, is Sam Lee, president and chief executive of StarKist Inc., representing the business sector, to which this year’s Flag Day festivities are dedicated, under the theme "Government and Businesses in Partnership."

This is the first time that the private sector will be joined in speaking at a Flag Day ceremony and this is the first time that a leader of the Fono is giving the Flag Day Address.

During a video conferencing Tuesday with his cabinet, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga revealed that Gaoteote will deliver the address, adding that at last year’s Manu’a Flag Day, it was Congressman Faleomavaega Eni who delivered the key address.

Lolo hopes that next year the honor will go to the Chief Justice, representing the Judicial Branch. Lolo reminded his cabinet, and members of the media present, that there are three branches of government, not just the Executive Branch.

According to the Flag Day program, all groups and organizations participating in the parade are to assemble at the stadium malae by 7a.m. with guests and VIP to begin arriving shortly thereafter. The program gets underway at 8a.m., with the invocation by Rev. Lokame Malaesilia, head of the Methodist Synod in American Samoa.

Following the invocation is the raising of the United States Flag by Mrs. Vera Annesley (owner-publisher of Samoa News), Fanene Morris Scanlan (owner of Morris Scanlan Gas Station and Samu’s in Utulei).

Business owners Fa’atamali’i Pritchard (Pritchard’s Bakery) and Tilo Kalepo Eliga Vasaga (who in this case is representing the Military Veterans) will hoist the American Samoa Flag. Territorial Teacher of the Year, Claire Marisse A. Bacus will read the Flag Day Proclamation.

After the speeches by Gaoteote and Lee, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who is also the acting governor, will deliver special remarks followed by the "pass in review" and Oath of Enlistment for local students entering the military — this has been part of the annual Flag Day for the last five years.

Cultural performances for siva and pese are set to begin around 10:45 a.m. Representing the business sector are StarKist Samoa and Bluesky Communications, while Samoa is represented by Sa’anapu Village.

For American Samoa villages, Pago Pago has been given the honor for the Pese while Vailoatai for the siva.

According to the program, the closing ceremony is supposed to get underway at 3p.m. with a speech by Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Satele Galu Satele Sr., who is also co-chair of the Flag Day Committee.

Events for the afternoon include the presentation of awards for the fautasi race, and other gifts for villages and VIPs.

State run KVZK-TV is broadcasting the celebration live on Channel 2 and the event will also be streamed live over the Internet for viewers all over the world to see. The live stream was also used at yesterday’s fautasi race and it’s been made possible through a collaboration between KVZK and Bluesky Communications, which provided bandwidth on the American Samoa Hawai’i submarine fiber optic cable.

"There is tremendous interest from overseas in this year’s fautasi regatta, with college students, Samoan military personnel stationed abroad, and the Samoan communities in general all over the U.S. who have been requesting a live feed from KVZK for these events," Office of Public Information director Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde said in a statement.

Bluesky Country Manager Lewis Wolman said the company is "honored to be asked to perform at this year’s Flag Day celebrations, and we are happy that we can help Samoans and others who are living overseas view KVZK’s coverage."

"Bluesky was honored when we received the invitation from Governor Lolo to represent the private sector by performing traditional Samoan entertainment at this year's Flag Day," Wolman told Samoa News yesterday. "After nine weeks of daily practises, our 100 local employees have greater teamwork spirit than ever, and we are going to demonstrate our love for American Samoa [today]"

Today and tomorrow (Good Friday) are government holidays and all ASG offices will be closed. All employees required to work on these two days will be paid in accordance with local laws and regulations.

As for the private sector, some of them will be open for business, while StarKist Samoa is closed as well as Bluesky, which will reopen on Saturday. StarKist resumes production on April 21. ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank will close today but will open tomorrow until 12noon. Bank of Hawai’i will remain open for the two days.

Department of Public Safety has beefed up police patrol during the Flag Day and Eastern weekend to ensure peace and harmony in the territory. Police will have a heavy presence at the stadium during Flag Day.

Samoa News will not publish tomorrow in honor of Good Friday and will return Saturday with the To’asavili weekend edition that includes official Flag Day ceremony coverage and other Flag Day activities.

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