Liberation Day has been viewed by many Chamorros from Guam as a day of thanks as the U.S. Marines retook the island ending close to four years of Japanese wartime brutality toward our families. The World War II retaking of Guam for the Americans was about fighting the Japanese military once again, hoping that Marine Corps casualties would not be as high as they were in the Battle of Saipan. The Liberation Day holiday for Chamorros from the Northern Mariana Islands may have slightly different interpretations because the northern islands were under Japanese control for decades.
Liberation Day is a celebration loaded with meaning and gives proper occasion for all Chamorros to reflect once again on what it means “to liberate” by assessing our total ongoing relationship with the U.S. Seven decades have passed since the recapture of Guam by U.S. forces and ambiguity, uncertainty and colonization continue to play a central role in the Guam-U.S. federal government relationship. The American military wants continue to forefront Chamorro islander concerns spanning across political, economic, informational, environmental, and human rights spectra.
Relational representations of imbalance and invisibility are stark because Guam Chamorro war reparations, for example, still remain unresolved in the Congress. Chamorros and residents living on Guam still cannot exercise basic political rights such as the right to vote for President of the United States, the right to have authentic representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the right to have any representation at all in the U.S. Senate. At the same time, Guam is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in compact impact reimbursements from the United States government, the Pentagon pushes forward to transform our Marianas region into the world’s largest American military training, testing, and research range and Guam veterans remain the lowest per capita funded population segment under the American flag, yet own war-related per capita killed-in-action rates 700 percent greater than the national average.
So where in all of this is present day liberation to be found?
It is 2016 and we are well into the 21st century. Seven decades have passed since our families saw Japanese wartime ravages cease. Seventy years is a long time. Will it take 70 additional years for our families to attain basic political rights in the American system of government? How long must islanders from Guam wait to find that liberating spot for political place and political voice within or beyond the context of American military and political power? These are just some of the questions that may be considered as our people move to collectively prepare for Liberation Day 2016.