Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day?

Can you imagine a 4th of July, in America, with absolutely no fireworks? No parade? No cotton candy? If you can, you're probably in American Samoa.

It was with an odd sense of understanding that I realized that there would be no Fourth of July celebration in American Samoa. We get the day off from work, but no one has a traditional celebration. You can't even buy sparklers in the store.

Which is too bad, since Samoa would be the perfect place to have fireworks. While states on the mainland worry about dry weather (some even replacing their firework presentations with laser light shows), American Samoa is super humid.

In addition, it gets dark here at 6:30 pm. You could have a huge fireworks show and still have the kids to bed by 8:00 pm.

Oh well. Here's the explanation from the Samoa News:

With the exception of 2003 when the Flag Day celebration was moved to coincide with Independence Day following the death of Governor Tauese Sunia, no major events have been held to mark the celebration of the Fourth of July in American Samoa for the past 11 or so years.

This year - which marks the 231th year of U.S. independence - is no different.

Governor Togiola, however, was able to honor the U.S.A. and lambast it in the very same week:

He said on this holiday, we call to mind the spirit of 1776 and the birth of the United States that was "based on the premise that as a people, when they are free, with inalienable rights, can pursue dreams and happiness and create a society that is filled with promise of continuous freedom in a land of bountiful opportunity."

"God has blessed American Samoa with this affiliation with the U.S. And we are thankful by showing our patriotic duty in being of service to America through the military commitment of our sons and daughters in active duty and in protecting the freedom of the world in the conflicts of war," he said. "As we celebrate the Fourth of July, and we celebrate and enjoy the freedom that comes with the commemoration that makes this day very special, let us keep in our prayers of thanksgiving the dedication and commitment of our military family across the globe in being of service to our country and all in the name of freedom."

"We place our trust in God for their safety," he added. "May He protect them. And may God bless those who lost their lives while safeguarding our freedom that we continue to enjoy and may God comfort their families who join us in celebration of freedom and America's 231st birthday. May God bless America. May God bless American Samoa."

He also said this:

(Radio New Zealand International) - American Samoa’s Governor Togiola Tulafono says the territory is being treated like a US colony with the imposition of federal laws.
The governor says statements made to the United Nations Decolonisation Committee that the territory has attained self-government and is not being treated as a colony by the administering power, the United States no longer holds true.

He says the United States is flexing its authority, and showing who is in charge, which is a sure sign of colonial rule.

He says Congress was beginning to dictate laws, and even American Samoa’s own Congressman was introducing bills without any consultation with leaders or the people of American Samoa.

Interesting, eh?

WE did celebrate the 4th, island style. We started off by going snorkeling at Faga'alu, and now I think we have at least half the shells from Faga'alu beach in our house (due to our shell collector).

While we were snorkeling, we ran into a group of SIX sea turtles feeding in one location. It was probably the most amazing thing I've seen in the ocean. Only a few of them scuttled off, but several of them just meandered by slowly. It was fun to swim along and watch them move.
After snorkeling we went barbeque hopping. Our neighbors and our married friends both had BBQ's at the same time, so we made sure we could make it to both.
I did hear Lee Greenwood on the radio, but man, I sure miss an old-fashioned Fourth-of-July.