Guam's official observance started off with a roar as a B1B bomber from Andersen Air Force Base performed a flyover of Governor Flores Memorial Park at the island's Ypao Beach. Beginning his speech to the vets, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo was able to thank Brigadier General Douglas A. Cox, the Commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen who was on the stage, for that bit of theater.
"General Cox, I love that airplane that just flew by. (Laughter and applause). I love that airplane. (More applause). I’ve spent several weeks going to other nations in East Asia, trying to convince the folks that Guam is a safe place to visit. And let me tell you, I wish I could be more upfront with them. With those kind of planes between us and the guy with the crazy haircut, there is no safer place than Guam, guaranteed. (sustained applause). Ladies and gentlemen, today is a day of honor and gratitude, giving thanks to all of you, our men and women in uniform, our veterans, these brave service members of our day and yesterday. Who stepped forward to each call to the frontline in defense of our nation and freedom."
Governor Calvo suggested that one day's not enough to honor veterans and promised to safeguard the memories of those who fell and to protect and support their families. And he reminded the audience that the sacrifice extends far beyond Guam.
"For those service members who paid the ultimate price for freedom and to their families, we extend our deepest appreciation. As governor, it’s been my duty and my honor to meet with the families of those who gave their all in service to our nation. Moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. More than 40 sons and daughters of Micronesia have been repatriated to Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, just in these past two decades as we fought terror… We cannot bring back your loved ones, but I can assure you that we will always remember them. We will remember that they were men and women with hopes and dreams. And for many of those who fought, their families remember that they were doing exactly what they wanted."
The event recognized more than 30 Veterans of the Year, including Army retiree Joseph San Nicolas, who wore his Vietnam era jungle fatigues and boots with his Sergeant-First-Class stripes and Special Forces logo.
Active duty personnel from the Guam Army National Guard, the Navy, the Air National Guard, the Air Force, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard were also singled out for praise.
Colonel Brent Bien, Officer in Charge of Marine Corps Activity Guam wrapped up his keynote speech with a reminder of the history underlying the day in the park.
"Every day is Veterans Day for the people on Guam and it has been since 1944 when U.S. forces landed and joined the Chamorro people in liberating the island from the Imperial Japanese Army. Anything worth having comes at a cost and the people of Guam know this better than most. So I say, take time today to thank a veteran. Show them that the extraordinary things accomplished by these ordinary people have had a lasting and positive impact on our lives. I ask that you cherish the privileges that you have inherited and never forget the sacrifices laid on the altar of freedom.”
As if mindful of Colonel Bien's words, ROTC students handed out envelopes with messages to the veterans present in the crowd.
Governor Calvo and Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral Shoshana S. Chatfield