Memorial Day 2021: Governor pushes regional health center, new hospital wing for veterans

The public is invited to visit Asan Beach to pay respect to the fallen and to enjoy the flag display during daylight as well as after dark. (PNC photo by Tony Lamorena)

Guam commemorated Memorial Day on Monday with flags all lined up at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Asan and a special commemoration in the Guam Veterans Cemetery in Piti.

As is the custom every May, the last Monday of the month was set aside to honor those service members who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero held a Memorial Day service at the Veterans Cemetery in Piti.

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“On Memorial Day, we honor every man and woman who has worn the uniform of this nation and laid down their lives for their country. Those who have served selflessly and sacrificed greatly and stood vigilant on the watchtower of freedom,” Leon Guerrero said.

During her remarks, the governor recommitted to improve healthcare for veterans on Guam.

“As we speak, throughout the world, servicemembers in uniform stand guard at the watchtower of freedom to ensure we continue to enjoy the freedoms we do today. And it is our duty…our obligation…to be there for them too. That is why our administration continues to advocate for a regional veterans health center to our federal partners,” the governor said.

She added: “Our veterans deserve timely healthcare, and assistance, and healthcare access. Our new hospital will include a veterans wing to treat and care for those who’ve sacrificed so much.

After the governor’s opening remarks, the guest speaker, Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral John Menoni, took to the podium.

“Today, on Memorial Day, we are gathered here today to honor the men and women who have given their last full measure of devotion in the service of their country,” Menoni said.

He added: “There is also a consistent debate about trivializing this American holiday when we refer to it as the unofficial start of summer … where we gather with family and friends…have picnics and parties…and take our children to the beach. Frankly, I firmly believe that if you were able to poll our servicemen and women who paid this ultimate sacrifice, most of them would highly approve of our current custom…of paying our respects..while celebrating life…with those we love.”

Wreaths were then presented by various government and military leaders as well as veterans groups.

A wreath was laid for every major conflict the United States had participated in since World War I, up to and including the war in Afghanistan, the nation’s longest war.

U.S. troops are slated to withdraw from Afghanistan in September.

The laying of wreaths was followed with remarks from Guam Veterans Affairs Office director Tim Aguon, who is himself a veteran.

“Un dangkulu si yu’us ma’ase to all of our fallen heroes of Guam who gave their lives to serve this nation for the freedoms we have today and most especially the families left behind to carry out their legacy. God bless us all. God bless our island and God bless America. Thank you everyone,” Aguon said.