By Alfred Acenas
EBC Hawaii Bureau
HONOLULU, HAWAII (Eagle News) – Democratic Governor Lolo Moliga cited “unfamiliar circumstances” as he began his annual address by looking back at the last 119 years when the South Pacific territory had celebrated Flag Day “with fanfare, jubilation, and with great happiness.”
Moliga described this year’s commemoration as “dramatically different” and “uniquely recorded in history” as the territorial leaders were the only participants allowed. Government employees, community groups, along with their families and friends, were not allowed in this occasion due to restrictions against public gatherings so as to prevent any spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the islands. “However,” Moliga added, “it will not lessen the dignity and majesty of this event with regard to the essence of its meaning and its significance to each resident of the Territory of American Samoa.”
“In spite of the awesome threat of death posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the thousands of lives lost, we see the resilience of the human spirit emerging amidst great adversity by their resolute to continue the fight to eradicate this dreadful disease,” the governor stated while encouraging citizens to look out for each other. “I see this same spirit prevalent among our people in spite harsh changes which have been imposed on your lives and the great discomforts that we are all experiencing together because of our collective commitment and resolve not to lose one precious life to the Coronavirus.
“Trying to strike a balance between protecting the lives of our people and safeguarding our economy from spiraling to a state of calamity, was and continues to be the epic challenge which keeps me up at night,” Moliga admitted as he addressed the outbreak’s economic impact. “The preciousness of life will always take precedence over the economy, but as leaders of our government, we are required to look at the big picture and to make sure that we don’t advance one issue at the peril of the other.”
Governor Moliga especially thanked the private and public educational leadership for ensuring that children continue their education in spite of the current mandate to shelter in place. He expressed his concern about the development of American Samoa’s young people.
“We can resurrect our economy, but we cannot afford to lose a generation of leaders,” Moliga said.
“Our successes have been attributed in part to our village system providing enforcement support to government programs dedicated to improve the lives of our people,” Moliga mentioned as he recognized the village leaders for their sacrifices and support to his administration. “On behalf of our government leaders, I thank the Department of Local Government and the village leaders, along with our Department of Public Safety for doing your part to enforce the need for social distancing which will guarantee the containment in the spread of the Coronavirus.”
Moliga took the opportunity in his final Flag Day address to acknowledge the federal government’s efforts in fighting the pandemic.
“We are grateful and are filled with gratitude for the leadership of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during these darkest times in our country’s history,” Moliga said. “We are very grateful to the Department of the Interior and the Office of Insular and International Affairs for their continued vigilance and diligence in making sure that American Samoa’s needs are fully articulated and satisfied.”
The South Pacific territory’s Flag Day began on April 17, 1900 and July 16, 1904, when Tutuila and Manu’a Islands respectively entered into the Treaties of Cessions with the United States Government.
Governor Lolo Moliga will complete his second term in January 2021. As of this report, there are zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in American Samoa.
(Eagle News Service)