Gone but not forgotten, the community remembers on Memorial Day

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(PNC photo)

Guam – Gone but not forgotten. On Memorial Day Monday, members of the community gathered at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Piti to remember our island’s fallen heroes.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero recognized the sacrifices made by the men and women who lost their lives so others may live in peace.

“Today, we reflect, pray, and laugh as we remember their many happy moments. There are no words, but their sacrifices were not made in vain,” Leon Guerrero said.

She said Memorial Day is the time to reflect on the liberties we enjoy today at their expense.

The administration also recognized Guam’s Gold Star Families as a way to honor the loved ones of Guam’s fallen sons and daughters.

One of them is U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Akoni Sablan Lukeala, who was only 23 years old when he lost his life fighting for his country in Afghanistan. His mother Dorothy said he was always so dedicated in serving his country and always protective of those he loved.

“To us, every day is Memorial Day. I want people to remember him. One of our greatest fear is that he’s forgotten. We want people to remember his dedication and sacrifice. I want to share something he shared with us in both of his deployments. He said, ‘No matter what happens to me, please be proud of me,'” Lukeaka said.

Another Guam hero we commemorate today is U.S. Army Private First Class Jaysine Petree, who enlisted right after graduating from Simon Sanchez High School in 2009.

After 19 months in the military, Petree paid the ultimate sacrifice in September 2010 while serving During Operation Enduring Freedom.

Her mother, Jayne Petree, said her daughter told her ‘it was her calling.’

“When somebody went to our home and told us what happened, I was shaking, but I told myself that she was happy. Today we remember her. We have to remember the sacrifices made. Thank you for remembering her and everybody else,” Jayne Petree said.

Jayleen Petree, said, “I miss my sister very much, and I’m glad she made a sacrifice because otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating sacrifices for us.”

“For your tomorrow, we gave our today,” said Maj. Gen. Esther J.C. Aguigui, Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, who reminded the community to honor its fallen warriors – to honor their legacy of ensuring democracy, freedom, equality, and lasting peace.

Aguigui said, “So let us enjoy the time we have with our family and friends today and as we reflect on the freedoms that so many of our sons and daughters died to protect, let us remember why we have the luxury and freedom we have today. On behalf of a grateful nation and a grateful island, we salute and bless our fallen heroes, our veterans, and our families and pledge never to forget why we have a holiday today.”

During the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, government and military leaders, and veterans groups led the wreath and flower presentations to pay homage to fallen heroes. A 21-gun salute by the 36th Wing of the U.S. Air Force and Guam National Guard followed the wreath laying.