Friday, May 20, 2022
In June of 1944, during the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the U.S. Marines took the beaches of Saipan which had been under Japanese stronghold. In 1946, two years after the American Invasion of Saipan, and when the island was declared secure, our people were released from U.S. military-run concentration camps. Though none faced life-threatening situations in Camp Susupe, the entire Indigenous population was held against their will. They were locked up inside this camp until July 4, 1946.
What makes Liberation Day significant to me is that we can celebrate the liberation of those who were held captive in the camps. It was the moment when our great-grandfathers, great-grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and parents, could step out into freedom and breathe in the fresh air. Our people could finally go to the areas where they used to farm and plant crops.
As we look back on our history, I’d like to welcome every resident of the Marianas to join us as we celebrate 76 years of freedom this July. This year’s celebration and parade will be quite meaningful, and I look forward to returning to the tradition that has unified us these past 76 years.
Liberation Day Parade
The earliest vivid memory that I have of the first Liberation Day parade I attended was at Chalan Kanoa. In the open field, I remember watching the parade on the road which consisted of mostly military Jeeps. The military marched in their uniforms and metal hats with the banging of drums following them. During another Liberation Day parade, I remember seeing old men and women riding on a bull carts, which at the time was considered a float entry.
Personally, there’s nothing that I would want to see different this year from the previous parade. The last Liberation Day we celebrated in the Marianas was in 2019. This year, I do hope to see many floats and vendors commemorating what our people went through 76 years ago.
The Office of the Mayor of Saipan and staff have been working hard to resume the Liberation Day festivities and return to some normalcy after two years of living with COVID-19. Instead of a week-long festival, we have cut down festivities to five days.
The celebration will take place at the Garapan Fishing Base and will start on June 30 and will end on July 4. What makes this year’s festival unique is that we will have added a special 30-minute firework display from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m., which will be spectacular.
We aim to give out prizes for participants in the float competition. The first-place winner will take home $5,000, second place is $4,000, third place is $3,000, fourth place is $2,000, fifth place is $1,000, and the consolation prize is $500.
At this point, a theme has not been set for this year’s 76th Liberation Day celebration. We are inviting the community to submit their ideas for a theme. We’d like to tie it in with the previous two years of COVID and how we are emerging into brighter days ahead. For more information about how you can participate in the parade or suggest a theme, call or visit the Saipan Mayor’s office.
As we prepare to celebrate Liberation Day, may we all remember what and who we are celebrating. Let’s remember those who sacrificed and devoted their lives to protecting our freedoms. We remember our veterans, including those who defended the Marianas in World War II. We honor our brothers, our sisters, our sons, and our daughters in uniform who continue to defend the CNMI and the United States.
For more information about GCEA’s programs, visit cnmieconomy.com, engage with the council on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at email@example.com.
By Henry Hofschneider
Henry Hofschneider is the Special Assistant to the Mayor of Saipan. While he does wear multiple hats in the Mayor’s Office, Henry also takes lead in the Home Numbering program where homeowners can now have a physical street address and number. The GCEA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.