NBG, Local Community and Liberators Remember Historic Sumay
SANTA RITA, Guam – Sailors and civilians from U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) joined local residents and Guam liberators during a memorial Mass at the Sumay cemetery on the base in Santa Rita July 17.
More than 150 former Sumay residents, their descendants and guests attended the Mass as part of the island’s annual Liberation Day ceremonies which commemorate the recapture of Guam by U.S. Forces from Japanese occupation July 21, 1944.
NBG Commanding Officer Capt. Andy Anderson said the event was significant to individuals both on and off the base as it continued to foster the relationship between the two communities.
“This is sacred ground and the events that took place in and around this area 70 years ago is something that we absolutely have to pay respect and tribute to,” Anderson said. “To be here today and see folks who were present during that timeframe and some of the liberators who were present here today is just an honor beyond anything that I would ever imagine.”
Sumay village was once known as the “Pearl of the Island” before World War II. Evolving from a small fishing village to the agricultural and commercial hub for ships in the mid-1800s, it became an economically rich village by the 1930s.
Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez extended his appreciation to the base for allowing events such as the Mass to be held at the historic site.
“I am very grateful for the Navy and the opportunity,” he said. “It gives the former residents and their families the chance to reminisce about their childhood and see where they were raised, and share it with their families. I’m really happy that the military is attending our functions because they see how it affects the elderly and how it really touches and affects people.”
Seven retired U.S. Marines who helped liberate the island 70 years ago also attended the Mass and met with island residents to share their stories.
“When we left here it was a mess from the war,” said Bill Toledo, retired Marine and Navajo code talker. “Now it’s a big city, all the war part is done away with and so everything is clean now. The people (are) the one(s) that invite us back over here and I am very happy to be here.”