A memorial dedicated to the lives of those lost during the 1918 Influenza epidemic was unveiled in Lauli’i yesterday.
The unveiling of the memorial was part of the village’s 100 years anniversary since the establishment of their church service on November 13, 1918.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malilelegaoi said the annual event had great historical significance.
“We have come to the 100th anniversary of the church service dedicated to the lives of loved ones that have been lost to the influenza epidemic in 1918.”
“It was also to pray for forgiveness from the Almighty God, due to the weaknesses found within most youths that led them astray from their spiritual lives.”
“But today is a new day and our government has already commemorated the 100th year’s anniversary together with the New Zealand government for our country as a whole, which was held in Vaimoso last week,” he said.
Tuilaepa said the Vaimoso memorial had enormous headstones, which are located at where those who lost their lives to the epidemic, were laid to rest.
“Some say that government-owned trucks went around picking up and carried the bodies of those that were taken by the epidemic and dropped to burial sites in Vaitele.”
“It was greatly enforced by colonial government in those days that there has to be a burial site just like in customs of the western countries.”
“And some did not obey these government initiatives and kept their own beloved families buried next to their homes, it is with these customs that we still see nowadays, even though we are governed by our own people,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the 1918 influenza epidemic compelled the Government to focus on various health interventions and services to ensure the security of the people of Samoa was guarded against other diseases.
According to the event’s organising committee secretary, Mapusua Ierome, funding for the work came from village members locally and abroad.
“At the moment we do not have the exact numbers for the total amount spent on the project but so far it is approximately $30,000 that I am aware. The project started on June but was completed two weeks ago before the actual celebration. It is significance to have a key monument within our village so that we will always our loved ones that were lost to such a tragedy,” he said.