Monday, July 29, 2013


A Freedom Run was held yesterday to mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Mañenggon civilian concentration camp on July 28, 1944.

It was that day that the Americans entered the Mañenggon Valley to find that the Chamorros had been quietly abandoned by the skeleton crew of Japanese soldiers who had been guarding them since around July 10.

To mark the event, a number of groups, especially those involved in public safety and defense, were invited to run from various starting points around the island and converge on Mañenggon by at a targeted time.  Once assembled in Mañenggon, the runners, young and vibrant, would join the survivors of the actual forced march to Mañenggon.  The survivors, carrying a banner, walked several hundreds yards from the drop-off point to the old camp, in symbolic re-enactment of their more arduous trek 69 years ago.

The survivors, in their 70s and 80s, take the lead in the walk, assisted by some younger folk.  Three young drummers preceded them in their honor.

Behind them, in emulation of what the survivors went through, the young and strong from three generations after the war.  It was a chance for our young people to experience something of what their parents and grandparents went through.  Not just knowing history, but in a sense living it.

The runners started at five points earlier that day :

1. CHAGUI'AN (Yigo) - site of a massacre of civilian Chamorros by the Japanese.  These men were part of a forced labor crew working on Japanese defense works just before the invasion.  Then the Japanese turned on them, chopping off their heads.  The Japanese feared the men would meet Americans and inform them about Japanese locations.  Some of the dead are not positively identified to this day.  It took years for people to even now about this massacre.

2. TIYAN (Barrigada)

3. ADILOK/PIGO' (Hagåtña) - Pigo' Cemetery was used as a civilian refugee camp shortly after the Liberation.

4. HÅGAT - this starting point also commemorates the massacre at Fena'.


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