Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day and Pacific Islander Americans

On this Memorial Day, the Pacific Islander Access project would like to extend our thanks and respect to all of the warriors who are serving or have served our country; and to their families, for the sacrifices they have made as well.

Military service is one of the many ways that America's growing Pacific Islander population gives back to the country we call our own. According to recent reports, American Samoa holds the solemn distinction of having lost more of its citizens in the post-9/11 conflicts, per capita, than any State or Territory (NBC: Eager to serve in American Samoa, but strong civic duty often extracts the heaviest price).  After American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia are next (TIME: A Micronesian Paradise: For Military Recruiters).  In addition, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation, Pacific Islanders are more overrepresented in military service than any other major racial group (Table: Who Bears the Burden).

But behind the statistics, there are troops, veterans, proud parents, and loved ones who long to see their warriors again.  In many cases they return home and are able to rebuild their lives, using earned benefits like the GI Bill.  But on Memorial Day in particular, we should show respect to the fact that unfortunately it's not always a happy ending.  One reminder comes from stories like this one, in yesterday's issue of the Austin Statesman, regarding a Samoan father -- a veteran himself -- coping with having lost his son in combat: LINK


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