PAGO PAGO, American Samoa --
The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific band opened the two-day celebration of Flag Day, commemorating the 108th anniversary of the first American Flag raising here, by providing the pomp and circumstance befitting a National holiday.
The ceremonies began amid a mixture of clouds and sunshine native to this tropical paradise. After the arrival of His Excellency Togiola Tulafono, Governor of American Samoa, and his wife, Mary Ann, and a prayer blessing the ceremonies, the Marines stepped off leading the pass and review of the government agencies, villages, high schools and local civic groups.
An afternoon performance of the Samoa myth of creation by the students of Kanana Fou High School on the island of Manua was the last act to be held in dry weather. The American Samoa Police Royal Band rolled out with a precision movement musical performance amid a torrential downpour. Not to be outdone, the MARFORPAC band followed, undeterred by the cascading droplets soaking every inch of uniform and instrument.
“The band showed the true mettle of what it is to be a Marine,” said Col. Cosmas Spofford, commanding officer, Headquarters and Service Battalion, MARFORPAC. “They went out there and put on one heck of a show. The band did us proud.”
“We tried to arrange for good weather,” said Tulafono. “We sent an e-mail to God, but he’s not responding.”
After the day’s festivities, which were delayed due to the weather, the governor hosted a reception to honor the festival participants.
“It was a great benefit to the have the Marine band,” said Tulafono. “It was a wonderful musical performance. I want to thank (the Marines) for honoring us for 108 years. It is only fitting to invite the Marine band to help us celebrate,” referring to American Samoa’s long military history.
The U.S territory was protected by a U.S. Naval Station, guarded by U.S. Marines, until it became a territory in 1900 and fell under the auspices of the Department of the Interior.
The weather proved much fairer on the second day of celebrations and provided the Marines the opportunity to showcase their talents without having to slog through puddles of water making their shoes squeak as loud as their instruments.
The Marines provided the American Samoa anthem to the arrival of the Governor and later wooed the crowd with a spunky show band performance. In honor of the first lady, the Marines performed her favorite song, Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
“The patriotism and drive for service here makes it worthwhile to do this,” said Warrant Officer Bryan Sherlock, band officer, MARFORPAC band.
Prior to the Flag Day celebrations, the Marine musicians visited five local high schools providing the students a rare occasion to witness the Marines artistic capabilities.