Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that President Barack Obama invited him to a special ceremony at the White House to be held today, May 28, 2013, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
“Born and raised in Hawai‘i, President Obama is our first ever U.S. President who I consider a fellow ‘islander,’ and I am thankful that he is even more aware through his experience when it comes to the issues facing our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities throughout the country,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“I am also honored to invite as my guest to the ceremony one of our leaders in the Samoan community here in the Washington, D.C. area for over 50 years, High Talking Chief (HTC) and retired Chief Master Sergeant Toaali’i Robert “Lopaki” Palmer, Jr.”
“Born and raised in the village of Fagatogo, American Samoa, HTC Toaali’i is the son of the late Fiamaua Falemalama Siligo Siavi’i from the village of Vaitogi.”
“HTC Toaali’i’s distinguished 40-year military career began in 1960, with active duty service in both the U.S. Air Force and the D.C. Air National Guard. Retiring in 2000, HTC Toaali’i was the first Samoan to attain the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. During his tenure, he was awarded numerous awards and medals, and participated in the inaugural parades of Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.”
“Now residing in Hughesville, Maryland, HTC Toaali’i and his bride of 52 years, Diana Lee (Sweeney) Palmer, have four children and five grandchildren. His granddaughter, Daisy Garrison, is this year’s American Samoa Cherry Blossom Princess. Her older sister, Dolly, served as our Cherry Blossom Princess in 2012. HTC Toaali’i remains very active in the community, especially with his church and as Historian of the American Samoan Society of Washington, D.C. He is an avid golfer, and on most days, you will find him on the golf courses at Joint Base Andrews.”
“I thank President Obama for the opportunity to honor APA Heritage Month while also celebrating some of our AAPI leaders in the community, like HTC Toaali’i, who have contributed to the strength of our nation and who have served their country faithfully. I also thank HTC Toaali’i for his years of continuous service and for accepting my invitation as an honored guest at today’s ceremony. He is truly an example of excellence, service, and dedication and I am thankful for his participation today.”
“As Executive Board Member and co-Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I look forward to today’s ceremony celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in honor of one of the most diverse and fasting growing communities in the United States.”