Congressman Faleomavaega announced today his personal thank you to government and traditional leaders, and to the people of American Samoa for the wonderful welcome and warm hospitality that was extended to the Congressional Delegation (CODEL) that stopped over for several hours in our territory yesterday afternoon.
The CODEL was headed by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) of the House Committee on International Relations. He was accompanied by other members of Congress and their spouses including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and his wife, Mrs. Rhonda Rohrabacher; Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) and his wife, Mrs. Eulada Watt; Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and his wife Mrs. Cheryl Flake, and Rep. Faleomavaega Eni (D-AS). The CODEL was also accompanied by The Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin, Chaplain for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a support staff of 13 and five flight crew members from the Department of Defense.
“I sincerely thank Governor Togiola for accommodating and allowing the members of the delegation to enjoy the traditional Samoan hospitality, and for being the most gracious of hosts for the duration of the delegation’s visit in the territory,” Faleomavaega said.
“I also thank the Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs, Paramount Chief Mauga, who was also the host of the traditional welcoming ava ceremony in his village of Pago Pago. The Chairman and the delegation members were especially honored by the welcoming ceremony, and were highly impressed by how strong our ties are to our cultural way of life,” Faleomavaega expressed.
“I also would like to thank High Chief Gaoteote, and High Talking Chiefs Lauti and Afuola, the chiefs council and village of Vatia for hosting the delegation afterwards for a short time while observing lands under the National Parks Service. It was an idyllic ride to Vatia as always, and the village council and good people of Vatia capped it off with the usual warmth and friendliness Samoans are known for throughout the region,” the Congressman continued.
“It is very important for Members of Congress to visit other Members’ districts to get a first hand experience and view of what things are like in those districts. For example, when issues pertaining to American Samoa come up for discussion and deliberation in Congress, at least those Members that have visited our territory would have some idea of what they are about from their earlier visit. This was the bottom line of our brief visit here, and I am very thankful that the Governor and our people were open and warmly receptive to Chairman Hyde and members of the delegation during their brief time in American Samoa,” Faleomavaega said.
“Then last but not the least, I would like to thank our people in general, especially the residents of Tafuna, Nu’uuli, and all the villages along the coast to Pago Pago and all the way to Vatia, for a most beautiful display of flowers and greetings along the way. Chairman Hyde and the delegation found it hard to believe that people would go out of their way to decorate the roadside and put up welcome signs for them. Personally, they were touched and many were fascinated with how we could live so close to nature, with the abundance of greenery on steep bold mountains, and with an ocean so breathtaking in color and beauty.”
“Again, I thank the Governor and our traditional leaders for being great hosts to Chairman Hyde and his Congressional delegation, and especially our First Lady, Mrs. Maryanne Togiola Tulafono, the Beautification Committee, and the people of American Samoa for keeping and maintaining the beauty of our islands for visitors and all of us alike,” Faleomavaega concluded.