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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 30, 1994




Fifty years ago, on July 21, 1944, after two and a half years of occupation, 55,000 United States Marines and soldiers stormed the small Pacific Island of Guam in an effort to bring about the liberation of a people oppressed by tyranny.

The conquest of Guam by Imperial Japanese forces had begun shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor when Saipan-based Japanese bombers launched the first in a series of raids on the island. The small defending force consisted of a handful of military and civilian construction workers, as well as the local Guam Insular Guard and the Guam Militia. Hopes of defending the island ended in the early morning hours of December 10, 1941, when the island's governor surrendered his post and the island, thus making Guam the only American community to be occupied during World War II.

The Chamorros, the indigenous people of Guam, endured great hardships during the occupation as their captors forced them to work long hours in the fields, repair or build airfields and defense installations, and dig hundreds of Japanese shelter caves. But liberation was close at hand. Guam offered an ideal strategic position for the Allied forces, as it would provide a centralized location between the Japanese homeland and the Philippine Islands to launch long-range bomber attacks. By taking the Marianas Islands back, we would also be able to sever vital enemy supply lines, thus cutting off thousands of enemy soldiers and ending their effectiveness in the war.

The battle for Guam was fierce. Enemy forces continued to launch counterattacks despite their lack of supplies or hope of winning. But the Americans were just as determined and went to great lengths to complete their mission.

Chief of Staff General Dwight D. Eisenhower stated it best when he said:

            "In a nation at war, teamwork by the whole people is 
            necessary for victory.  But the issue is decided on 
            the battlefield, toward which all national effort 
            leads.  The country's fate lies in the hands of its 
            soldier citizens; in the clash of battle is found the 
            final test of plans, training, equipment, and -- above 
            all -- the fighting spirit of units and individuals."
       And it was the spirit of the Americans fighting on Guam 

that brought a quick end to organized resistance on the island as it was secured by the American forces on August 10, 1944.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 21, 1994, as the "50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Guam." I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.


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