Naval Cemetery may become US historic site
HAGATNA(AP) – The U.S. Naval Cemetery in East Hagatna is being nominated by the Department of Parks and Recreation to be on the National Register of Historic Places.
Listing on the National Register would provide formal recognition of the property’s historical, architectural or archaeological significances. It also would provide eligibility for Guam Preservation Trust grants, and the cemetery would become part of the National Register archives and encourage the preservation of historic resources by documenting the site’s historic significance, according to Parks and Rec.
Parks and Rec’s Guam Historic Resources Division historic preservation specialist Jose Garrido said the cemetery - which has graves from 1902 to 1954, including the bodies of important military and civil officials from various eras - is an important place that showcases a lot of history of the island. Getting the cemetery on the National Register would elevate its significance on the national level and would offer more funding for historic preservation, Garrido said.
Many of the people buried there have significance in Guam’s history, he said. There are more than 200 internments at the cemetery and it embodies several “firsts,” including the first burial associated with the U.S. political administration of Guam.
There are 27 graves of veterans who served during the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the U.S. getting Guam from Spain. It also contains the graves of the first German nationals who died as a result of the U.S. declaring war on Germany in World War I. The SMS Cormoran, a German auxiliary cruiser, arrived in Guam in December 1914. In 1917, the captain of the ship scuttled the Cormoran when the U.S. declared war on Germany, killing several men on board, the packet states. A monument to the ship also is located at the cemetery.
The cemetery contains the grave of William H. Butler, the deputy surveyor who conducted the first U.S. Cadastral Survey of Hagatna. This provided the basis for ownership rights and taxation in Guam.
The U.S. Naval Cemetery was the first non-sectarian cemetery on Guam, which meant burials weren’t restricted by religious belief.
Graves of some of the only American prisoners of war taken from U.S. soil are located in the cemetery. After the Japanese invasion in World War II, several U.S. military personnel and civilians were taken as prisoners and the cemetery is the final resting place for several of those men.
Further research into the individuals found in the U.S. Naval Cemetery is expected to yield important information on the early U.S. administration of Guam. Many of the individuals there have descendants who made substantial contributions to the island in the past 100-plus years, according to Parks and Rec.
The cemetery was established by the first U.S. administration in Guam following the transfer of the island by the Treaty of Paris in 1899. It occupies approximately three-quarters of an acre.
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