To all the present and former residents of the CNMI who oppose the militarization of Pagan, you have my support. I am currently taking a class online, and it just so happens to be U.S. History. As a student on Saipan, I didn’t retain much of the information I was supposed to be learning. Now, as an adult, I am disgusted with how our nation has treated people to get what they want. History tells us the Native Americans were slaughtered and displaced by the millions! They were all over the Americas well before Britain decided to explore the New World, and they went from holding much of what is now the United States into reservations! They were driven off their land, turned against each other, and killed, if they didn’t conform to the new American lifestyle. What a shame. Are we the next group of people to be displaced from our own homes at the hands of the U.S government? Do we even know the long-term effects of the live fire training taking place on FDM? Nothing seems to be out of place right now, but how long until residents start dropping in record numbers due to contamination of the air, seafood, and beaches? Take a look at the Bikini Atoll where nuclear testing was done and residents were displaced multiple times because of byproducts that were dangerously high. The U.S compensates them like “sorry-we-messed-up-your-home-here’s-some-money.”
I am grateful for the opportunities that have opened up to us as a result of being American citizens, but at some point the quid-pro-quo game has to stop. Throughout the world, U.S. military presence is disliked by the local nationals. In the Middle East, many of the local nationals don’t want us there. The transfer of troops from Okinawa to Guam is because the locals don’t want the U.S there either. So now here they are, knocking on our front door.
Do we want to be like them? The Native Americans? You have a voice, let it be heard! Our local elected officials, backed by us, have the power to stand up to the government and say that we know how this story will end and we don’t want to help them write it. I read something funny in Marianas Variety: “The report stated that the 11,614-acre island of Pagan has many beaches that could support amphibious operations training” and “The siting study also stated that Aguijan, Anatahan, Sarigan, and Alamagan do not meet the requirements for combined-level training, mobility-corridors criterion and full spectrum weapons employment criterion.” As a former member of the U.S Armed Forces, I don’t believe that the military cannot take another island besides Pagan and make it suitable for training. Come on! We’re talking about the same military that built hundreds of bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, Germany and other countries, and made them suitable, for years! But they can’t make the other islands suitable? Don’t make me laugh.
Pagan is an escape for many residents; it gives us a glimpse of what life was like in the Marianas prior to the colonization of the Spaniards, Germans, Japanese, and now Americans. Why would anyone want to give that up? Many of our children don’t know how to sustain themselves with only natural resources because they have been too heavily influenced by Western standards. I am against the militarization of Pagan and further displacing the residents who were already once displaced during the volcanic eruption in the ’80s. They have FDM and Tinian, what more do they want?
Christine Kaipat Dennis