The Spirit of Hope, the Colors of Freedom
Buenas yan Håfa Adai!
It has been seventy-one years since the end of the Japanese occupation and the recapture of our island. This year’s theme, “Espiriton Diniseha, meskla na kulot Libettåt” or “The Spirit of Hope, the Colors of Freedom” aspires to acknowledge the unwavering hope and prayers of the Chamorro people throughout the occupation. It also recognizes the pride and patriotism instilled in our people and the emotions evoked from seeing the red, white, and blue colors of the U.S. flag waving over our island. I also want to take this moment to congratulate World War II survivor, Irene Perez Ploke Sgambelluri who was selected as this year’s 71st Liberation Parade Grand Marshal. This year, like every year before and continuing on, we remember the sacrifices, bravery, and courage of the Chamorro people and our servicemen and women.
Though proud and patriotic, we continue battling our own individual emotional wars over the colors of freedom. While we may have all suffered differently in the past, our collective anguish continues to this day. The spirit of hope may lie in the very fact that “Pacific” means “peace.” The colors of freedom exist in the green lands that make up most of the blue Pacific Ocean. We are interconnected islands who share the Pacific Ocean and make up the Blue Continent – the largest continent in the world. But we are not truly at peace.
We are still at odds over how our islands are envisioned for war use in the name of creating peace. All the while, reparations acknowledging the sacrifices that were made during past wars meet continual resistance from the U.S. Senate. The colors of freedom must be painted with a genuine effort from Congress to honor those who survived the war on Guam. The spirit of hope includes the continued fight for war reparations, even if it means taking yet another approach. It includes caring and respecting the land that fortifies our lives and protects our people – staying vigilant over our personal, carbon, and military footprints.
As island people, it is our instinct to care for one another. When one person suffers injustice, it impacts us all. We see the same sentiments not just locally, but also in many other communities: the Chattanooga, Tennessee shooting; or the unrest in Ukraine. The best way we can care for each other is to truly live for peace – within ourselves, our families, our islands, and with the rest of the world. In Mother Teresa’s reflections on working toward peace, she said, “Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin…in our own families.”
As we honor our men and women who have so proudly served the United States, let us also remember our survivors. Starting with ourselves, let us continue working toward being the peaceful nations our ancestors envisioned, as one thriving Blue Continent.