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Remembering those we lost in 2021

CSM (Ret) Falaniko

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — While death is often referred to as part of the natural order of our lives, it is not an easy thing to accept, especially by family members and friends, whether the departed were public figures or otherwise. Each loss is keenly felt and mourned, with the hope that time will heal the wound, and the void filled with good memories.

Throughout 2021, the territory observed with sorrow and sadness, news from across the US and around the world, about the deadly pandemic — COVID-19 — claiming millions of lives. Although American Samoa was spared in 2021 from the virus, confirmation has surfaced from news outlets of Samoans including those who are from American Samoa, residing in the US who have died during the pandemic.

On our local front, there were lost lives due to traffic accidents and the most recent occurred two weekends ago at the front gate of StarKist Samoa cannery where four lives were lost. And mourning continues by friends and family members of the deceased.

Another tragic accident occurred in April at the main dock, claiming the lives of two men.

In October, a man died from drowning while out palolo hunting with others at Fogagogo.  Another tragedy is the body of a spear-fisherman found at the Vatia shoreline.  Also in October, a woman was strangled to death by her girlfriend.

Flags in American Samoa were ordered to half-staff by the governor to honor and pay respects to for the victims of violence in May in San Jose, California as well as for the victims in April in Indianapolis, Indiana.

American Samoa also paid its respects with the lowering of flags over the passing of former US Vice President Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale in April and the passing earlier this month of former U.S. Sen. Robert Joseph Dole.

Samoa News reported on the passing of loved ones in 2021 — with some of them passing away in the US. Families often put out official funeral announcements and these were shared with Samoans around the world from the Samoa News website and social media sites.

Some of those to be remembered in 2021 are CSM (retired) Ioakimo Falaniko, who passed away in October;  local singer, Leonard “Leon” Miller, who also passed away in October, as well as former lawmakers, traditional leaders and others.

Samoa News conveys its condolences to the families of all those who suffered a loved one passing on in 2021 and we share the sorrow with the families who were unable to be together to comfort each other after the territory’s borders were closed due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, there were some that were not able to be buried ‘at home’ in American Samoa due to the closed borders.