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President Panuelo & Secretary Wilkie Pay Respects to the Ten FSM Citizens Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice in Solemn Wreath-Laying Ceremony
PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On July 28th 2019 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Robert L. Wilkie, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, paid tribute to the ten men and women of the FSM who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the ideals of peace, unity, and liberty, in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the Pohnpei International Airport. It was the President’s third wreath-laying ceremony in as many months, and the first item on the Secretary’s agenda as part of his program of visit for attending the Joint National Inauguration Ceremony.
Before laying the wreaths with Secretary Wilkie, the President shared his somber, yet earnest, remarks.
“Every time I look at the pictures and see the names and faces of the men and women we lost, I am sobered and reminded that we owe those heroes and their families—Micronesians AND Americans—a debt of gratitude we can never re-pay,” President Panuelo said, while visibly and deeply moved.
“I am compelled to re-emphasize…the United States of America is the Federated States of Micronesia’s closest ally. And that is an understatement,” the President continued. “The men and women whose faces adorn this wall have shown greater commitment to that alliance, and to the values we jointly stand for, than I can express.”
After the President’s remarks, Secretary Wilkie shared a brief statement on how the close relationship between the FSM and the U.S. is predicated both on shared values and equally shared commitments to advancing the ideals of freedom for all.
“For over 75 years Micronesians and Americans have shared the incommunicable experience of war…,” Secretary Wilkie began, who described how—in World War Two—it was Micronesian scouts who saved U.S. pilots whose planes had been shot down and fallen into Chuuk Lagoon. “We will not fail or forsake those…great men and women who came forward when courage was in short supply, and it’s our duty as citizens of free republics to never forget [their] sacrifice, and to thank God every day that we are surrounded by heroes and great men and women.”
Shortly after the President’s and Secretary’s remarks, they laid wreathes in honor of the Nation’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Later in the day, the President’s Chief of Staff—Leo Falcam Jr., a veteran and retired Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps—would join Secretary Wilkie in a citizens’ outreach meeting with the FSM’s veterans.
The people and Government of the FSM recognize and appreciate its persistent, perpetual, and enduring relationship with the people and Government of the United States, the historic visit of the U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs, and the recent proposed legislation—the COFA Veterans Review Act—to provide healthcare to citizens of the FSM who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.
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