SAN JOSE, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS -- The JROTC Stallion Battalion joined the community of Tinian and gathered at the Veterans Memorial Park for the 18th anniversary of September 11, 2001, memorializing those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack. Due to the worsening weather conditions from September 11th, the ceremony was postponed to the 18th. The Tinian Mayor’s Office has been hosting the ceremony with support from our major sponsor “Tan Holdings” for four years now.
Jovita Paulino from the Office of the Mayor was the mistress of ceremony. Before the posting of the colors, she gave a brief overview of how the event would go. The Department of Public Safety Tinian Color Guard posted the colors with the national anthem and CNMI anthem sung by our very own Cadet Sgt. Cielo Long and Cadet Sgt. Isa Ha’ani Long. Their melodic voices meshing together was enough to send soothing chills down your spine. Father Rey Rosal was then invited up to give his alleviating invocation.
The Honorable Mayor Edwin P. Aldan was asked to give his welcoming remarks. As part of his speech, he brought up the definition of a hero which according to Merriam Webster is “a person who is admired or idolized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.”
The reason he emphasizes this is because there are many people who are not truly aware of the uniqueness and excellence that these heroes possess. Concluding his remarks, Mayor Aldan said that some of the flags they fly in honor of our brave heroes were sponsored by good friends and supportive family members, while others came from the Leadership and the Tinian Mayor’s Office. He then extended his great appreciation to one of the Mayor’s Office’s major sponsors, Tan Holdings, for always being there and being partners with the community of Tinian. He also thanked Tania Mendiola for managing the event and making it a successful one, the Tinian Mayor’s Office staff, Tinian JROTC, Department of Public Safety and Department of Fire Services for contributing to the event, and everyone who came out despite the weather, to support our heroes and to express their feelings.
The guest speaker for the ceremony, Mr. Jerry Tan, included Typhoon Yutu in his speech.
“The last few years, we experienced three typhoons, Soudelor, Mangkhut, and Yutu. Before that, we were pretty lucky, we didn’t have typhoons for awhile. But, we want to do this Field of Heroes to pay tribute and remind everyone to say ‘thank you’ and appreciate our first responders.”
Our elected leaders, both from the delegation and the Tinian Municipal Council, in addition, Mayor Edwin Aldan and Mr. Jerry Tan assisted in the laying of the wreaths. A moment of silence commenced shortly after. The Department of Safety from Saipan conducted the 21 Gun Salute. After that, TAPS, was played, followed by the simultaneous water salute and a sounding of the one-minute siren that not only pierced our ears but our hearts as well.
To close off the ceremony, United States Army Retired and current Senior Army Instructor of the Tinian JROTC Stallion Battalion Captain Joseph Santos said his remarks. He said that he noticed the t-shirt that Mayor Aldan, his staff, and Mr. Tan were wearing which said: “We will never forget.” He admitted that was how he started with his remarks. However, he removed the first two words from the saying and ended up with ‘never forget’.
His speech went as follows:
“I’d like to say a few things about a few people. First one is that of a young man named Patrick Tilman. He played for the National Football League Arizona Cardinals. But after 9/11, he turned down a 3.6 million contract from the Cardinals and instead enlisted as an Army Ranger. He saw the call to duty. He served in Iraq, but was killed in Afghanistan. Never forget. There were 2,977 people who were killed that morning. Their only crime was going to work. Never forget. There were 342 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers who died that day. They didn’t run away, they ran to the destruction. They gave up their lives helping others. Never forget. Some people in Congress now are trying to get us to forget. They say ‘some people did something’. Shame on them. That something was a destruction and a murder of 2,977 people. Who did it? It was Islamic terrorists. We should not be afraid to call them what they are. Never forget. 9/11 is our generation's Pearl Harbor. When Pearl Harbor happened, America wasn’t ready. When 9/11 happened, we were not ready. Let us never forget. . . If we forget, then Patrick Tilman’s sacrifice will be wasted, those firefighters and law enforcement’s sacrifice will be wasted. Ladies and gentlemen, let us Never forget.”
Father Rey then gave his benediction, followed by the retrieval of colors by DPS Tinian Color Guard officially concluding the ceremony.
Even though the attacks that happened on September 11 were meant to crush us, we have only come together to be stronger and unified. We will always remember 9/11 and the heroes that put their lives on the line and take that call to duty. “We Will Never forget”.