Unfinished Business: The Meaning of 1898

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Richard F. Taitano

Micronesian Area Research Center Unfinished business: The meaning of 1898 statement at the centennial commemoration Piti, guam


Dr. robert a. underwood June 1998

An online publication of the Micronesian Area Research Center University of Guam

Unfinished Business: The Meaning Of 1898 Statement at the Centennial Commemoration, Piti, Guam, June 21,1998

By Robert A. Underwood Buenas dias yan hafa adai todos hamyos, Governor Guiterrez, Lt. Gov. Bordallo, Speaker Unpingco, Admiral Janzyk, members of the consular corps, my distinguished predecessor, General Ben Blaz, ladies and gentlemen, June 21,1898 - June 21,1998 One hundred years have passed since the stars and stripes were raised over Guam. Much has happened in the intervening 100 years; there has been dramatic progress in our lives; there have been significant changes in the way we earn our living, in our view of the world and of Guam and in the political changes we have experienced as a people. If we think of the names that have made an enduring impact on our lives - names that easily roll off our tongues; names like Ramon Sablan, Agueda Johnston, Richard Taitano, B.J. Bordallo, Carlos Camacho, Ricardo Bordallo, Felixberto Flores, but there were also names like Chester Nimitz, Richard Leary, William Safford, Bishop Olano, Willis Bradley, Roman De Vera, Henry Glass and Juan Marina and names more difficult to pronounce like Heidiki Tojo and Lt. Commander Homura. And of course, there are the faces, faces we see in pictures; primarily nameless faces, Chamorro faces which adorn our museum walls and which are imbedded in our consciousness. And there are the events of the past 100 years which have shaped our existence; the sinking of the Cormorant, the Japanese invasion, the introduction of ice, July 21,1944, the passage of the Organic Act and the first tourists to come to Guam. As we reflect upon what has changed, it is also important (perhaps even more important) to think about what hasn't changed - the indemonstrable spirit of the Chamorro people. We must remember that names like Aguon, Naputi, Santos and Cruz were also here on this sand in Piti some 100 years ago and to acknowledge that they are still here. In their name, we must remind ourselves that the full resolution of our island's political status, the full application of democracy, the exercise of our right to selfdetermination still eludes us. We must remind ourselves that there is still much unfinished business. And we must remind ourselves of this reality, not in the bitterness of failure, but in the sweet light of hope that many tasks lay ahead of us because of this unfinished business. And we must draw our strength from the experiences of our people, here on Guam, in order to finish this unfinished business. And we must remember that the road ahead, while difficult, has been prepared for us by our people so that we may travel it to finish this unfinished business.

The correction of injustices previously endured is to be found on that road; the fullness of American democratic principles lies ahead in that road; the fulfillment of our capacity for self-government is just ahead in that road where we will finish our unfinished business. And so I call upon all of the people of Guam; everyone who has seen the beauty of this island and held it in awe; everyone who has seen the sun rise over Yona and set in Agat; everyone who has toiled the soil, enjoyed the sand, moved through the jungle and cooled off in Guam’s waters - to celebrate the day, not just as a time to re-enact an event which occurred 100 years ago. But to dedicate ourselves to finish this unfinished business in the next few years; in the next millennium so that new and inspiring dimensions can be added to this commemoration. To do less is to dishonor the experience of our people; to forget the lessons of their travails and to ignore their sacrifice. We must not let this happen; we cannot let this happen.

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