Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s 120th Flag Day Address - April 17, 2020
I stand before all of you today, in unfamiliar circumstances, because for the last 119 years we have celebrated Flag Day with fanfare, jubilation, and with great happiness for on April 17, 1900 and July 16, 1904, Tutuila and Manu’a respectively entered into Treaties of Cessions with the United States of America, which effectively transformed the lives of our people then, today, and tomorrow, led by our Government Motto of “Let God Be First”.
This 120th Flag Day is dramatically different in the way that it is being celebrated, compared to the colorful history of this life changing event in which we annually praise the wisdom of our forefathers and reaffirm our sense of patriotism and gratefulness to the United States of America for continuing to honor its pledges to protect the lives of the people of American Samoa along with their culture and way of life.
This 120th Flag Day will be uniquely recorded in our history because those participating in the Flag Raising Ceremony today, are only the Leaders of our Territory, however, 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.
As we raise our Flags today, we will raise with them our hopes, our gratitude, and our gratefulness, along with our collective prayers beseeching God to look, with mercy and love, over the people of the United States and to bring an end to this deadly Coronavirus disease.
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.
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. I thank all of you, on behalf of our leaders, for tolerating these severe changes to your lives. Because of your efforts, American Samoa continues to be blessed by still not recording one confirmed Coronavirus Case. God be praised.
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. 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. So, we want to recognize and thank our business community for enduring the actions which have severely eroded your earning capacity.
Health experts have determined that the best way to stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus is by social distancing ---- a concept that goes against our culture and our religious practices. It is our current most difficult challenge however, with the gracious and generous help from Religious Leaders, this challenge has been lessened and I humbly ask that this resolve needs to be maintained if we are to be successful in our efforts to stop the entry of the Coronavirus into our home.
Amidst the multitude of challenges and worries which have been brought to bear on us leaders during these difficult times, it is the long-term consequences of our current actions, as we dedicate ourselves to continue the battle against this silent and nonselective enemy. I am very concerned about what we are doing on the development of our young people because we can resurrect our economy but we cannot afford to lose a generation of leaders, thus, we thank our private and public educational leadership for continuing to ensure that our children continue their education during these very difficult times.
Our culture and our way of life defines our identity and who we are and our principles of sharing and reciprocation have set our culture apart from others with a village system that enforces these precepts. 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. 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.
We ache and we hurt along with our entire Nation and country over the loss of so many Americans and many are still fighting at home and in hospitals for their lives. 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. Thus, on this 120th Flag Day, we join our Nation in continuing our prayer vigil imploring God to end this deadly disease. 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.
This is my last Flag Day and while I would have liked to celebrate it with spirited, jubilant, and joyful activities, I am humbled by this last chance granted to me, by God, to end my tenure of service to my beloved people of Tutuila and Manu’a. I pray that I will live up to this challenge. I find great comfort and solace in the fact that God has also blessed me and our territory with the Leadership of Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga, Senate President Gaoteote Pala’ie Tofau, Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale, Chief Justice Lealaialoa F. Michael Kruse, Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen, and Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega, who will ensure that we will continue to be victorious in our efforts to stop the Coronavirus from entering our territory.
At the onset of the Lolo-Lemanu Administration, we opted to defy status quo defined by the historical practice of limiting the appointment of cabinet members to only those who supported our campaign. Instead, we advertised all directorship positions, and we made our decision based on the most qualified candidate and not on whether he or she was a Lolo-Lemanu supporter.
We are very proud of this decision because it allowed us to bring together the best minds and dedicated hearts to help Lemanu and I advance our vision, rooted simply to improve the lives of our people and to give them hope in the future.
I take this opportunity to publicly express our deepest gratitude and gratefulness to the cabinet for all the sacrifices that you have made, some at the cost of their lives, to help Lemanu and I achieve our campaign promises to our people that we will make their lives better.
Cynthia & our children, together with Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Mauga, Ella and their family, join me in wishing all of you a wonderful Flag Day.
Our Government has been founded on God and we have placed Him before everything else and in Him we have placed all our hopes and dreams; our fate is in His Hands.
God Bless the United States of America and God Bless the Territory of American Samoa.
HAPPY 120th FLAG DAY
Lolo Matalasi Moliga
Governor of American Samoa