Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why Does Guam Celebrate Independence Day?

Today while you are celebrating "Independence Day," please keep in mind the following points from Hope Cristobal (jr.)

Reflections on Independence Day

I have often wondered whether American’s understand what they celebrate every year on July 4th “Independence Day.” Perhaps some Americans consider this day as nothing more than a holiday, time for family, “Summer time is here!” Perhaps some Americans do reflect on the true meaning of this day—America’s independence from their mother country, given to them 230 years ago.

Every American treasures and values their own independence. American parents raise their children with the hopes that one day they will be independent—their children will be able to make their own decisions and live freely as they choose. Isn’t this every American’s dream? And to have a sense of independence in one’s life is an essential need—that vital and quintessential value that American’s hold from the day they are born till the day they die.

Let us reflect now on this American value and the truth of the matter. Did you know that today, America owns territorial possessions around the world? A “possession” means that America has taken ownership of lands, where it was not initially their own, and use these lands for their own benefit. In this modern day, we could call these possessions “colonies.” American’s did not ask nicely for these lands and its people, they used force to obtain these lands—killing many indigenous along the way. America has drafted up documents stating that Congress, the Senate, and the Executive Office “has the power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations” on the individuals who live in these lands without their consent. These documents also state that these “owned” individuals are not even subject to the rights inherent in the U.S. Constitution—“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness!” Where is the “independence” so coveted by American’s when they own and possess other people and their land and do not provide them the very essential human liberties which should be afforded any living creature?!

As a U.S. citizen, I refuse to partake in a celebration of “independence” when the truth of the matter is that America has willfully taken away another’s independence so that they can reap the benefits. The irony in this is that America knowingly abuses others in the very same way they have been abused.

Think critically as you enter into a celebration of America’s independence from colonial status and remember that YOU, as Americans, continue to own colonies today! Indigenous people today suffer in their lives and livelihoods because of their colonial status. They do not deserve the hardships they face because of their lack of independence, just as America did not! I call on Americans to educate themselves and others on these matters! Allow the people of American colonies to live the life of liberty and freedom that you yourselves find so priceless!

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