June 08, 2015

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

May 25, 2015 Pohnpei, FSM -At 10:00 this morning, the United States Embassy hosted a well attended and emotionally charged Memorial Day commemoration at the Pohnpei International Airport as the photos of FSM's fallen soldiers appeared to look on from above.

Speaker Wesley Simina postponed the FSM Congress' morning session so that Senators could attend the event. Vice President Yosiwo George also attended along with several FSM cabinet members and Pohnpei State legislators.

Mr. William Cook, Economic/Consular Officer of the U.S. Embassy in the FSM served as master of ceremonies. The Reverend Eden Skilling of the Kosrae-Kolonia Congregational Church gave the invocation.

The magnificent "Youth 4 Change" Choir sang wonderful acapella versions of both the FSM and U.S. National Anthems blending their harmonies in creative and often times, hair raising ways.

Acting Secretary for FSM Department of Foreign Affairs, Samson Pretrick gave remarks on behalf of the FSM government. Governor John Ehsa gave remarks on behalf of Pohnpei State. U.S. Ambassador Doria Rosen gave an impassioned speech and described her experience as a young child through adulthood as she came to understand what Memorial Day means and thanked FSM citizens for their service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Benito Cantero, President of the FSM Veterans Association gave his remarks last. Taking advantage of the presence of the Senators from the FSM Congress, Cantero challenged the government to establish a liaison for veterans affairs at the FSM National Government and also challenged them to establish Memorial Day as an FSM holiday. He said that while the FSM does have a Veteran's of Foreign Wars day the country has nothing to specifically honor FSM citizens who have paid the ultimate sacrifice of their life as the 10 veterans whose photos are on the walls of each airport in the FSM had done.

In the most emotional moment of the ceremony, people significant in the lives of the 10 fallen soldiers placed wreaths for U.S. Army Sergeant Skipper Soram, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Steven G. Bayow, U.S. Army Specialist Derence J. Weilbacher Jack, U.S. Army Private First Class Henry Paul, U.S. Army Sergeant Iosiwo Uruo, S.S. Army National Guard Specialist Cwislyn K. Walter, U.S. Army Sergeat Youvert Loney, U.S. Army Specialist Eric M. Finniginam, U.S. Army Sergeant Jerome Firtamag, and U.S. Army Sapuro B. Nena, each of whom gave their lives in combat situations on behalf of the freedoms we enjoy in the FSM.

It was a somber moment and tears were shed as Taps was sounded.

Mr. Steward Peter, Lay-Minister of the Kepinle Protestant Church pronounced the benediction.

FSM citizens enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces at a higher per capita rate than do U.S. citizens.