Congressman Faleomavaega was proud to attend the outstanding performance by SPC Merita Seva’aetasi-Manuleleua at the recent Army Reserve Ambassador Conference held simultaneously with the Army Reserve Leadership Conference in the nation’s capital. SPC Manuleleua was selected to perform the National Anthem during the opening ceremonies of the Army Reserve Ambassador Conference held Thursday morning in Crystal City, Virginia. American Samoa’s Representative to the U.S. Congress and many of the Army Reserve’s top brass were guests at the opening. Manuleleua will again sing the national anthem at the Army Reserve Senior Leadership Conference Saturday morning in Washington, DC and will have a repeat performance in the evening at a reception for the combined conferences that will feature entertainment by the Army Chorale and String Quartet.
“It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel very proud as a Samoan,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I knew she could sing because that is a natural trait for most Samoans, but I didn’t really know how good Merita is until I heard her perform right there in front of the crowd. To be chosen from amongst the many singers all over the country who are in the Army Reserve, to travel all this way from our homeland and conduct a command performance in the nation’s capital before such a distinguished crowd, is truly something to be proud of.”
“I was especially pleased to hear Major General Thomas J. Plewes, Chief of the Army Reserve speak well of the Reserve unit in American Samoa for their outstanding performance in the field trials and now for producing such talents like SPC Manuleleua,” Faleomavaega continued. “General Robert Lee and the whole Army Reserve in American Samoa ought to be very proud of themselves for their accomplishments.”
The Army Reserve’s Ambassador Program was formalized at this year’s conference with an investiture ceremony in Capitol Hill. Created in 1998, the program is to support the Chief, Army Reserve’s efforts in establishing relationships and communicating Army Reserve issues with key political, business and community leaders at the state and local level. Ambassadors are appointed for an initial term of three years. The goal of the program is to have at least two ambassadors in each state and territory.
SPC Manuleleua’s trek to DC began when she sang the National Anthem at the 20th anniversary of the American Samoa Army Reserve Unit this past December. Present were then-Colonel, now-General Robert Lee, Commander of 9th Regional Support Command and Colonel Bruce Westcott who, after a series of contacts, procured the Samoan vocalist’s invitation to sing in DC at the Reserved Officers Association Conference in February of this year. The Ambassadors were present at that event and were impressed with Specialist Manuleleua’s performance they immediately invited her back for their conference. Faleomavaega spoke proudly for all of American Samoa when he said, “The fact that SPC Manuleleua was invited twice to sing in the nation’s capital infront of the military’s top brass is a testimony of her musical abilities and the quality of raw talent that is developed in our islands in the South Pacific.”
SPC Merita Seva’aetasi-Manuleleua is from the village of Pago Pago and is the daughter of Siuila Solomona-Seva’aetasi and the late Robert Tago Seva’aetasi of Pago Pago. She is a 1980 graduate of Samoana High School and is a former member of the American Samoa Arts Council Choir under the tutelage of High Chief Pulefa’asisina Brownie Tuiasosopo, known to produce many of the best vocalists islandwide. Following graduation Merita joined the U.S. Army and was on active duty between 1980-1984. She had quite an illustrious singing career while serving in the military. She sang in Fort Lee, Virginia during the annual Cultural Week celebration that featured many ethnicities including Samoa. While on tour abroad she sang at an Ambassadors conference held in the Middle East in Egypt as well as a July 4th celebration in Israel where she sang the national anthem.
Upon her return home in 1984, Merita joined the Army Reserves and taught at Leone High School for a few years before joining the staff at Tafuna High School where she was the choral director for nearly ten years. Last year she transferred to the Division of Curriculum Instruction for Music at the central office of the Department of Education. She is a music specialist for the division. While her husband Fuluifaga Francis Manuleleua, a long-time musician and DOE instructor, is the Coordinator of DOE’s Curriculum Instruction of Music. Mrs. Manuleleua is grateful to the Director of the Department of Education, Dr. Sili Sataua for allowing her to assist in implementing a musical curriculum for American Samoan students. She explained, it has always been her desire to nurture and help develop the musical potential that many Samoan children possess, whether it be in vocals or playing an instrument, she believes with direction and commitment American Samoan students can excel and succeed musically.
Specialist Manuleleua and her husband Fuluifaga Francis Manuleleua, are the proud parents of Ernest Seva’aetasi Manuleleua and Patrick Francis Manuleleua. |
Photo: Army Reservist SPC Merita Leleua with Congressman Faleomavaega outside the Army Reserve Ambassador Conference and Army Reserve Leadership Conference after her amazing performance of the national anthem. Also pictured is SGM Pamela Townsend of the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve.