Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday paid tribute to those who lost their lives on Guadalcanal during the Second World War.
These include US Marines, members of the Allied Force, as well as local Coastwatchers and Scouts.
“At this moment 73 years ago, there were noises and the movement of 6,000 US Marines, as well as deployment of hundreds of military artillery equipment, tents and food rations,” Sogavare said.
He was speaking at an early morning commemoration service held at the American War Memorial at Skyline, to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the US landing on Guadalcanal.
Sogavare said the day signaled the first major land offensive against the Japanese force who occupied Guadalcanal and set up base around the Lunga and Tenaru area.
He said this signifies two things in itself especially for this gathering.
“It is a way for us to pay solemn tribute to the heroes who were engaged in the Guadalcanal campaign, demonstrating loyalty to the task they engaged in and took on the challenge with brave and self-less duty.
“And to celebrate the achievement of lasting freedom; and peaceful coexistence between peoples, and governments around the world in general, and in Solomon Islands in particular.”
Sogavare added Solomon Islanders today know too well, what happened then and why it was all necessary.
“We know why, this time 73 years ago on this innocent island and upon quiet and peaceful atmosphere, and amongst the untouched coconut palms and forests environment, the United States Marines descended on Guadalcanal at the spot known as Red Beach.”
Sogavare said wars have much significance to remember, to liberate from military suppression, to set people free from dictatorial and selfish rulers.
“More so it’s a fought in order to protect nation’s security, promote democratic governance and build people’s confidence to set their own path to development and prosperity.
“For us, the Guadalcanal campaign by the American led allied forces has allowed us the opportunity to rethink the importance of peaceful coexistence, respect for law, and respect for all persons’ right for self-determination.
“And the importance of accepting and upholding the principles of United Nations Charter and the many conventions Solomon Islands Governments have ratified over the years.”
Sogavare said celebrating the successes is also about acknowledging the sacrifices made by soldiers and non-military personnel who showed bravery and self-less attitude to help and protect others’ lives and rights.
“Those US marines who fought against all odds and won the first major offensive for the US and her allies in the Pacific, right here on Guadalcanal, needed to be remembered.
“It is for them too, that this ceremony is held.
“It is also important that we pay tribute to the indigenous Solomon Islanders for their bravery and courage as Coastwatchers’ who warned American troops of incoming assaults.
“These Coastwatchers’ and Scouts were the eyes and ears of the allied forces.
“Many of us here remember the famous story about the bravery and tenacity shown by two such Coastwatchers, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who rescued a marine officer from his sinking PT 109 speed vessel, late John F Kennedy, who later become President of United States of America.
“Or the unwavering courage of Sgt Major Vouza; who bravely endured physical and mental torture at the hands of the enemy to remain loyal to the course of freedom.
“As with all wars, there are many whose names are not recorded on these walls around us and whose courage goes unremarked.
“It is all the more remarkable and deserving of the highest commendations, that they willingly and bravely put their lives on the line, in anonymity such that their identity and the sacrifice they endured for our sake, remains anonymous to us all.
“Thus, today we remember them; remember their courage and we remember their stories.”
By BRADFORD THEONOMI