Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Defining Guam's role in U.S. history

Despite its relatively small size - over 200 square miles - Guam's strategic location in the Western Pacific has attracted the presence of several nations in its past.

Guam and its Chamorro inhabitants have been administered for over 400 years by Spain, Japan and America. Ferdinand Magellan's landing on Guam in 1521 began Spain's reign which lasted until 1898, when America claimed the island as part of the prizes in the Spanish-American War.

When Japanese invasion forces stormed Guam in Dec 8, 1941, Guam became the only populated territory in the U.S. to endure foreign occupation. On July 21, 1944, America re-captured Guam and re-established the naval government. By the end of the 1940's President Harry Truman removed Guam from under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of Interior. Today, Guam remains under the Interior department.

The Pentagon's 332-page official History released on Oct. 21, 1999, to Robert S. Norris (a private specialist on nuclear weapons) acknowledged that in 1951, President Truman authorized the shipment of nuclear capsules -the bomb's plutonium or uranium core- to the Pacific island of Guam during the Korean War. Starting in 1956, a wide variety of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems were sent to the Pacific as a first line of defense for America.

Regulus cruise missiles launched from a ship and guided by an escort plane, shipboard Talos anti-aircraft missiles and a variety of Army battlefield nuclear weapons were deployed on Guam. Today, the only full-time U.S. nuclear deployments (according to the Pentagon History) outside of the U.S. are in Europe.

In 1950, the U.S. Congress passed the Organic Act, giving Chamorros American citizenship and a civilian government. In 1962, President Kennedy lifted the Naval Clearing Act which opened Guam's ports to domestic and foreign visitors.

In 1975 more than 100,000 evacuees from the fall of Vietnam were repatriated via Guam. In 1996, 6,600 Kurdish refugees who feared retaliation by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were housed on Guam. The Chamorro people, with their unfailing hospitality, fed and clothed these refugees, many taking them into their homes as house guests.

Many patriotic inhabitants of Guam, during the WWII occupation, were tortured and beheaded while protecting U.S. soldiers from capture and execution. During each major war -- WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, Guam endured the most military casualties of native sons per capita in the U.S.

At this juncture in history, as Guam attempts to redefine its political status, the debates manifesting have been misconstrued by those who are not of the island as not being patriotic. The central issues focus upon Guam's political status whereupon any U.S. citizen who decides to take residence on Guam (U.S. soil) is not currently protected by the U.S. Constitution, can't vote for president, and can have all rights revoked by Congress.

While questions of political status and discussions of postwar military landtakings without due process are raised, the native people are resolved to defend the U.S. as the nation needs them.

The military presence in the past contributed to the island's economy as America's might is projected beyond CONUS {continental U.S.}. During the 1990's, the tourism industry overshadowed the military as the dominant economic juggernaut fueling the economies in the Marianas Islands of which Guam is the largest and Southernmost Island. House Resolution 494


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