It is a bit on the painful side reading about efforts to strip the liberators of the honor of having a main road named after them. At the time it was done, it reflected the genuine sentiment of appreciation by our people for the liberators. I am not endowed with the words to express adequately what a glorious moment that period was for our people and for the Marines. I saw it; I felt it; I remember it; and, I shall never forget it.

If Guam were now to take that honor away from the liberators, the name Liberation Day would then ring hollow. It would never again have the same significance were we to remove the liberator from liberation.

In the entire history of Guam and our people, Liberation Day stands among the tallest of events that we celebrate. Ever since that period in our history, we have anchored our modern historical references to antes de y guerra and despues de y guerra. The guerra we are talking about is World War II, from which we were liberated by the armed forces of the United States, led by the Marines.

Since my retirement from 50 years of public service, I have devoted most of my days to recording, in words and on film, all that I have been able to recover and recall about Guam and our people, as part of my contribution to the preservation of the history, tradition and culture of our people and our beloved Guam.

As a people, we have undergone incredible hardships for centuries. During the occupation we bonded as never before and emerged from that sad chapter, heads high and full of heart. Our liberation in 1944 was more than liberation from an oppressor; it was our liberation from the disparities we had accepted without question for so long. And it was as though we had been born blind and miraculously given sight.

By any yardstick, the liberation of Guam was the turning point in our history as a people. Indeed, we suffered greatly during the war, but thousands were wounded and killed in action to liberate us. To minimize their contribution by removing the liberator from liberation is to deny truth to ourselves and facts to history.

On this, the 60th anniversary of our liberation, we can best celebrate it by recognizing and expanding on its significance, rather than minimizing it with changes that diminish and deny the original intention which rose and reflected a very special period in our history.

BEN BLAZ, brigadier general, Marine Corps (Ret.), former member of Congress
February 7, 2004