‘Full measure of devotion’


As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II here, we look back with profound gratitude to a generation who had endured life in the islands before, during and after the war. It included our parents and elderly who walked the shores and hills of paradise.

Most are no longer in our midst but leave behind a legacy of resiliency—rebuilding our island communities—from the rubbles of a costly war. Gradually, they resume our traditional way of life of farming and fishing.

The war was geopolitical in nature so far removed from our simple daily lives as islanders accustomed to peace and tranquility. In fact, we were innocent bystanders in an atrocity fought by two warring giants in our backyard.

While we could conveniently claim innocence in the atrocity there’s the greater and powerful message underneath the freedom we’ve donned since then: the lives of young men who gave it a “full measure of devotion” so that you and I could be free under the stars and stripes forever. And we are free, aren’t we? It was their precious lives that freed us from an imperial government.

In observance of this celebration there’s a sense of melancholy recalling a young mother and her two boys bidding adios to daddy at his graveside one day at sunset. He died in the service of his country in Afghanistan. I get a lump in my throat whenever I think of the unbearable grieve they had to endure. It was my first reality check with the real meaning of the term freedom. It isn’t handed out like food stamps coupon or a word often used with redundancy in empty political speeches. It is earned with real sacrifice!

Meanwhile, my family had suffered its share of sacrifice before the war. My grandfather, Elias P. Sablan, was jailed on suspicion of working as a spy for the Americans. It’s almost comical why the imprisonment. Grandpa had learned a few words in English from books bought by his uncle, a whaler, from the East Coast of the U.S. He brought them home for his nephew. I know grandpa had an extraordinary gift for language and so learning English wasn’t difficult.

How timely too that Uncle Dave completed his book providing a lucid portrayal of his experience during and after the war. It’s an outstanding description of a personal journey for which I am honored to have received a signed copy. Thanks Uncle Dave!

Moreover, my late saintly mom spent the entire war in Marpi with Japanese families. She’s in charge of collecting rent for the family property. She was in Garapan when the first destructive bombardment started leveling the village. There was no room to return home so she ran with families headed north. She didn’t see them until after the war.

Returning to our fallen heroes, imagine the day they left family members (loved ones) behind to defend freedom throughout the world. None knew it was the last farewell. None of the kids knew it was also the last time they’d see dad. Dad never came back. They had to do without him since then. It depicts the true definition of the word “sacrifice.”

Let us generously offer our thoughtful prayers to our fallen heroes and their families. It was their ultimate sacrifice taken with “full measure of devotion” that we are free today. Yes, the bells of freedom ring loudly through these isles and beyond “from sea to shining sea!” Happy 70th Anniversary Mariana! Our prayers and Si Yuus Maase`!

70 Años Na Selebrasion
Pa`gu na ha`ane i mina` sitienta años deste finagpu` geran dos guine. Megai gi mañaina-ta ni man-estaba antes, durante yan dispues de gera lamayot giya siha esta manhanau para i deskanson niha. Mapega lastrun niha gi inai yan hegsu` este siha na islas gi hilu` metgot na espiritun natibu umaregla tatte i destrosiau na modun linala tautau tanu`.

Solemni na okasion ni muna` hassuyu` un` palao`an yan dos lahiña gi lemem tautau `nai madespide i patriatkan familia gi naftaña. Matai gi geran iya Afghanistan. Didog na pininite i tumaiguen asaguaña yan tatan famaguoña. Ayu na sinisede muna` komprendeyu` haf` sustansiaña “libettat” `sino “freedom”.

I ha`anen ayu na sindalu yan otru siha ni manmatai umasegura na manlibre hit pa`gu. Tatayuyute siha yan mañainata ni uttimu na sakrifisiu para tamana` fanlibre. Hahassu siha pa`gu na ha`ane gi tinayuyot miyu. Si Yuus Maase`!

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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