After netting 2,580 lbs of trash at our Beautify CNMI! cleanup of San Antonio Beach, yes, I said 2,580 lbs of trash, I went to the airport to show my respect for the CNMI's latest casualty in Iraq, Adam Quitugua Emul, as his remains arrived on Saipan.
I am of course just estimating, but it looked like there were over 500 cars lining airport road. There were probably about 2000 people.
A lot of the people lining the roads were families. Cinta Kaipat's family was one of them. Parents loaded up their kids and lined their cars up along the road so that the headlights were facing the road. There were also some community groups and businesses. I recognized the local VFW guys, the Reserves (or is it the National Guard?), Saipan Grand Hotel, and I think, Bank of Hawaii. There was even a little league team out there. I also saw several of our lawmakers lining the road. There were others, but it is kind of hard to remember them all.
The hearse carrying Adam's body finally came out of the airport around 4:00 PM. Everybody along the street stepped up to the edge of the pavement and watched as his body drove by. A lot of people were crying.
The title of this post is "A sad story gets sadder." That is because the CNMI lost yet another soldier in Iraq this week, brining our total to 5 (Adam was the fourth). Try to put this in perspective: there are 60,000 American citizens and guest workers in the CNMI and a New York Times article on July 31, 2005 reported that there are 245 local soldiers fighting in Iraq.
Is there any comparable sized community in the mainland US that has that many soldiers serving in Iraq? And you know what's even worse? The CNMI soldiers in Iraq don't even have the right to vote for the President that sent them there...but this isn't a diatribe, so I won't even go there.
Here are a few more pictures taken by JH:
I have a question: Is the Bush Administration still banning photos like the ones above? Am I going to get a visit from a Pentagon official for reprinting JH's photos?