For former senator Frank Blas Jr., the 76th anniversary of Guam’s liberation should be commemorated and remembered by residents, even privately if necessary, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Blas, who is also the president of the Guam War Survivors Memorial Foundation, said no one could have predicted the seriousness and severity of how COVID-19 was going to affect not just our island, but the world.
“Tough decisions had to be made, and, as in the case of our Liberation activities, cancellations were unfortunately inevitable. That said, we now have the opportunity to be innovative in our celebrations and still have the means to commemorate and learn,” Blas told PNC.
As for the island’s war survivors, Blas said that thankfully, for many of the survivors that he frequently sees, they are as well and high spirited as can be.
However, not all have received their claims. Blas said some are receiving letters indicating that their claims have been adjudicated and now await their compensation.
“With regard to what needs to be done, obviously one should be a shorter time between approval notification and the release of the award. Another may be a second claims submission process to allow those survivors who were unaware of the initial submission to file their claim,” Blas said.
So despite COVID-19, how can people nonetheless continue to make the commemoration meaningful this year?
“Take the time to learn just one account of what happened on our island over 76 years ago,” Blas said.
According to the former senator, there are a number of ways anyone can get access to this information. There’s the museum, there’s their group website, www.guamwarsurvivorstory.com. There’s www.guampedia.com. There are numerous war memorial sites throughout the island, and there are the survivors themselves, what little of them are still alive.
“Don’t neglect the opportunity to learn about what our people had to endure over 76 years ago. Trust me, it’ll give you a better perspective of what you have to endure today,” Blas said.
He added: “Seventy-six years, and that is to commemorate the end of an enemy occupation … 76 years was preceded by over two and a half years of fear, anxiety, confusion, helplessness, and continuous prayer. Seventy-six years ago today marked the beginning of an end to a time when many families lost everything they had, everything they worked for, everything they treasured, and for some, everyone they loved. So as we commemorate what our people endured, let us learn from those experiences to help us endure and recover from the fear, anxiety, confusion, and helplessness we’re experiencing today.”