Memorial held in Yigo for Chagui'an massacre - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Memorial held in Yigo for Chagui'an massacre

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - While annual Liberation Day activities bring thousands of people to events at the carnival and to the parade in Hagatna, the true reason why Guamanains commemorate liberation is to take the time to remember what happened when Japanese imperial forces invaded and occupied Guam during World War II.

And although there are so many stories that have been passed on from generation to generation there was one that almost didn't make the history books.

It is often referred to as the forgotten massacre, as Yigo mayor Rudy Matanane said, "The site where this white cross that marks the site where 45 men brutally executed 70 years ago by the Japanese imperial forces." These 45 men were randomly selected from the Manengon concentration camp in Yona to carry war supplies to a Japanese command post located at Milalak, Yigo near Chagui'an.

"The age range was 70 to 15 years old. The youngest had died," he said.

During the liberation of Guam in July 1944, the US military didn't even know about the command post.  It wasn't until about one month later as the battle reached Yigo that the 21st marine regiment discovered the 45 men decapitated here.  Their story however was only truly uncovered ten years ago by students from the University of Guam who came across secret journals revealing the forgotten massacre. Guam historian Tony Ramirez has conducted extensive research about the Chaguian massacre and today fought back tears as he told the story of the youngest victim Ramon Baza Quitaro and what he must of felt before he took his last breath.

"He would have said this - nana mother, tata, father, yuus God, I am only 15 that's the message," he said.

Although it has been 70 years since the Japanese invaded Guam - island leaders during today's somber ceremony said we must always remember what happened.  "Forgiveness is the greatest virtue amongst people we must continue on our journey forward in peace to forgive and never to forget.  The fateful tragedy of World War II," said the mayor.

Governor Eddie Calvo said, "Time heals goodness always wins out over evil and now what was once enemies are friends and what was once a battlefield and the site of a massacre is now a paradise and I think that's the message for all of us here."

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