Last Monday’s more than two-hour long Liberation Day Parade had a lot of firsts as various sectors of the community took part in the festivities of the 71st commemoration of the opening of the gates of the then Camp Susupe. This year’s celebration’s theme is Our Islands, Our Heritage.
This was the first time that it took close to three hours before the parade ended, the Vietnam War veterans and the U.S. Army Reserve joined, members of the United States Army Band and Guam Army National Guard marched, and a B-52 bomber making a flyby.
Volunteer groups, non-profit associations and organizations, various departments and government agencies, and local and visiting nationalities gathered at Quartermaster Road, the starting point of the annual parade.
Members of the Matua Riders, some having various sizes of the U.S. and CNMI flags mounted on their motorcycles, were at the front of the parade and was followed by various local elected leaders and other VIPs.
Liberation Day executive committee chair Chris Leon Guerrero had a car reserved for him but chose to join the Matua Riders at the start of the parade.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, and Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council members Antonia Tudela (chair), Alice Igitol (vice chair), and Lareina Camacho (secretary) were the CNMI leaders that were part of the parade.
Liberation Day non-profit group president Louis Rogers, Japan Consul Toshio Matsumura and his wife Kiyoko, Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI Eli Arago, Korean Association president Hong Kyun Kim, Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, Skywalker Communications Group managing director Dr. Hu Bo also rode in separate cars.
Imperial Pacific International Holdings majority shareholder Margaret Cui Lijie and Best Sunshine International, Ltd. chief executive officer Mark Brown rode on a private car.
Jonathan Wolf and his family was also part of the parade after the 11-year-old made history by becoming the first middle school student from the Pacific Islands District to win in the National Speech and Debate Association finals. His winning piece was Patrick Henry’s 1775 speech “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.”
They were behind the Department of Public Safety Color Guard and Grand Marshall Viola Alepuyo. The 2015 Royal Court and this year’s candidates were among those that received loud cheers.
Vietnam War veterans and U.S. Army Reserve rode in two military trucks, while the Yum Kwang High School Marching Band and Sung Sin University, and the 70-member Koenji Awa-odori Association flew all the way from South Korea and Japan just to join the festivities.
Hopwood Junior High School’s Leadership Corps and the Mr. and Miss Hilitai, and the CNMI JROTC Unit from Kagman, Marianas, and Saipan Southern high schools were also part of the parade.
The Chinese Association of Saipan’s lion dancers, the Northern Marianas Islands Football Association, Coca-Cola and Foremost, Fleet of Happiness, Falun Dafa Association of Saipan, Japanese Society of NMI, Saipan Awa-odori Team, Lion’s Club International District IV-Region II, Mariana Stamp & Coin Club, Mc Donald’s Saipan, American Red Cross NMI Chapter, Rotary Club of Saipan, trucks by J.J. Cabrera’s 670 Lifts, Stellar Marianas’ Miss Teen and Miss CNMI candidates were among those who represented non-profit groups and businesses.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority-Airport Rescue Firefighting, Department of Commerce, Commonwealth Office of Transport Authority, Homeland Security and Emergency, Department of Public Safety, Joeten Kiyu Public Library, the CNMI Women’s Affairs Office, and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Office on Aging were the government agencies that took part in the parade.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Tan Holdings, the United Filipino Organization, Papgo Familian Lancheros, Commonwealth Health Center Corp. Employees Association, Kosch Refaluwasch Carolinian Affairs Office, Department of Public Works, Marianas Visitors Authority, Marshallese Association, Department of Public Lands, and SM LLC were the competition floats entries.