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Dear Editor,

With the current pandemic occurring around the world along with many other issues the United States and our territory is facing, I understand that there are restrictions and protocols to protect our people. It is evident why Governor Lolo Moliga, Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Mauga and the COVID-19 task force committee have closed the borders of American Samoa and why they have decided to extend the closure. The health of the citizens of the territory is vital and I know that they do not want to jeopardize that in any way.

But I am writing in concern of my late father, Matauti’a Vailu’u Ma’anaima Lang. With the border closure being extended once again, we can’t even begin to heal or find closure.

My father served two years in the United States Marines before he was medically and honorably discharged due to an injury from serving in the Vietnam War. While he was in the Marines, he served two tours and earned 2 Purple Heart medals, 1 Bronze Heart medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal. Mr. Lang also served the territory working at the United States Postal Office for 21 years. My father was a strong advocate for the Veterans Association in American Samoa, an active member of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) Siona le Mauga Paia in Leone, the Sa’o of the Vailu’u family as well as a loving husband, father and grandfather.

In January of 2018, we received the devastating news that he was diagnosed with cancer. But this did not stop my dad’s faith. With the Lord by him and our family’s side, he was ready for the fight. He knew it would not be an easy battle, but his faith was strong and never faltered. With the assistance of the VA, he was able to travel back and forth to Hawaii for his appointments. He went through chemotherapy but did not respond well to the treatments. The doctors scheduled him to have his radiation starting April, unfortunately he was never well enough to begin the trials. On April 3rd, my father was called to be with our Heavenly Father.

Since April, my father has been in the Woosley Mortuary in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What saddens my family and I the most about his departure is that we were not allowed to be with him during his last moments due to the COVID-19 restrictions. My mother was not even allowed to be by his side. So, there he was, taking his last breath in an empty hospital room without any of his loved ones around him. It breaks my heart to even think about his final moments.

My father always fought for his rights and the rights of other veterans. He loved hard and protected his family with his whole heart, body and spirit. It would feel wrong for me not to do the same for him.

The last thing we would like to do for our father is fulfill his wishes in laying him to rest on the land that he worked hard to protect and preserve. The land that he had so much pride in and was always proud to call his home.

I understand that this is a difficult decision, but please, we want to bring our Veteran, a war hero, a servant of our territory, a son of Samoa, home so that he may be able to rest peacefully. What is the Covid Task force doing to move forward? Why isn’t there enough tests? Where are all the federal funds going?


Victorian Lang