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Annual memorial held in Sumay

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Before World War II, Sumay was one of Guam's most prosperous and thriving villages, but was destroyed following the war. A memorial ceremony is held there every year as part of the annual Liberation Day celebrations.  

Dozens crowded under canopies, among the grave sites at Sumay Cemetery, singing songs of hope during the Sumay Memorial Mass Monday morning. Naval commander Captain Andy Anderson said, "Today's event is a commemoration of what people endured and sacrificed during WWII, the reason that it's important is so that we allow families access to the installation, back to their territorial lands if you will, to pay homage to the sacrifices that their families endured," he announced.

Anderson attended with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, First Lady Christine Calvo, several senators, mayors, and members of the community. Santa Rita resident Julia Chargulauf Miller said she was just a young girl when the war first began. Although she lost her sister, she said the rest of her family survived the war through what she calls the grace of God.

She said, "I will just be forever grateful for the American military forever, because if they didn't come to the island, we would have all been erased at Mannengon. That was the plan of the Japanese. You might here other stories that they removed us for safety, no, there were big open graves being dug."

Ignacia Tajalle also attended, as she does every single year. Tajalle was born in Sumay, and said she was just a toddler when the war broke out, adding, "I remember when the war was. Well, it wasn't really declared, we didn't even know it was coming, but I remember you know when I was running to the jungle with my godmother, my brother, that's all."

Although she doesn't remember much, one thing she will never forget is the family she lost, many of whom are still buried at the site. "I have my grandfather from my mom's side and my younger brother, right after me, is buried here," she pointed out. "He would have been 78."

She was joined by her cousin Inez Cruz Quinata, who visited the grave sites of her grandfather, great-grandparents, and sister.

Both thanked the military for providing access to Sumay, a place they say their families lived in a distant, more prosperous and peaceful time in Guam's history.

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