By: Edward C. Maratita, Jr.
“God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world, peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth, Amen!”- Pope Benedict XVI.
On September 8, students from Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja joined the Mayor of Rota, Jerry Tan of Tan Holdings, local leaders, the various law enforcement agencies, fire and emergency medical responders, off-island guest, and the Luta community in commemorating the 16th Anniversary of 9/11 dubbed as the Field of Heroes ceremony to honor first responders and service men and women.
The ceremony was held at the Joe G. Charfarous Jr. Veteran’s Memorial Park.
“It’s a way for students to honor the lives lost during 9/11 and thank those who put their lives on the line every day,” said administrator/principal Carmen H. Atalig.
Atalig added, “The students felt privileged to perform as part of the Sept. 11 commemoration of the terrorist attacks of 2001.”
Led by the school’s music teacher Mary Rose Lucero, the students sang AMERICA, MY HOME a rendition by Teresa Jennings and THIS IS MY COUNTRY by Roger Emerson.
“It’s always such an honor, to be invited to participate and minister in this ceremony for our Rota community,” Mary Rose Lucero said.
In addition, on September 11, the students observed a moment of silence and prayer for the victims of 9/11. They have little knowledge or no memory of that terrible and life-altering day. They know it is part of history that is remembered and honored as Patriot’s Day.
“I asked my social studies teacher Mr. Ed (Maratita), why is 9/11 or Patriot’s Day not a holiday?” said student body council president Auston Guiawan. “We observe the 9/11 so I think it should be a holiday.”
“I informed the students that the U.S. Congress has the power to make Patriot Day a national holiday. But it also cost lots of money for the federal government,” said class adviser Edward Maratita, Jr. “It’s easy to see why many politicians prefer a solemn day of remembrance that doesn’t offend anyone or strain state and federal funds.”
Maratita added “Just because it’s not a federal holiday now, however, doesn’t mean it never will be. It took years to enact Martin Luther King Jr. day as a federal holiday.”
Because of the yearly commemoration of 9/11 or Patriot’s Day, the students are drafting a letter to send to members of the U.S. Congress to enact a law to have Patriot’s Day a national holiday.
“I reiterated to the students that funds should not be an obstacle if your commemorating lives, past or present. It’s time for the students to voice their concerns. I told them you don’t need to wait until you’re an adult to create a movement. You can start now,” said Maratita.
“We should let them know that we salute the courage and service of all men and women,” said student body council vice president Kaitlyn Balgoa. “These men and women might appreciate just a “thank you”, or a “we respect you”, but it will be a good idea to have a holiday especially for them.”
“We need to recognize everyday heroes such as my dad. He’s a policeman and protects our community. My dad is an everyday hero,” said 6th grade student Autumn Hocog.