In the past couple of years, you may have heard complaints coming from some of our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. about the big conspiracy by the Democratic leadership: Bills that are too long—in the opposition’s opinion—for any reasonable person to be required to read and even to understand. Do these whiners also get a pass from history class?
As the years go by and Congress fails to pass what is currently known as the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, I am starting to think that many of those lawmakers who are sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution have decided that they can go about their business without a working knowledge of American history.
I am not talking about what passes for American history in our high school textbooks. I’ll bet you never read there about the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II or more than a few lines about the treatment of American Indians over centuries.
And I guarantee you never heard a word in school about Guam, an American territory that was left undefended or reinforced in the hands of Japanese invaders, and whose people then suffered executions, torture, forced labor, forced marches and internment in concentration camps.
The Loyalty Act proposes modest compensation for the people of Guam who suffered through nearly unimaginable cruelty and suffering due to their status as U.S. nationals. As a person who grew up in Guam, I heard these stories from my childhood and knew many, now gone, some still with us, who suffered through that time.
I was particularly disturbed recently to stumble on a conservative (Red State) website, where some writers suggested that the Loyalty Bill is merely a typical raid on the U.S. Treasury.
One “Pat HMV” tried to educate his fellow bloggers: “Guam had been under the control of the United States since 1898. Rather than beef up the military forces in Guam in preparation for the war, our government made a decision to abandon it to certain capture, should war break out.”
As others have pointed out…it was American policy to provide compensation to Americans who suffered under Japanese occupation during the war. This isn't ‘reparations’ (which connotes paying for harm one has caused oneself), it's simply taking care of your family. Suppose the Japanese had invaded Hawaii and brutally mistreated ‘real’ American citizens there. Would you be horrified that the U.S. government provided them with assistance once we retook control of the islands? Would you say simply ‘hey, we liberated you, now you're on your own?’
Well said, Pat! But in the present, the Loyalty Recognition Act is bottled up inside the Defense Authorization Bill, where it recently had Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal for company, as the usual suspects try to figure out how to score political points at the expense of troops fighting two wars.
I urge you to educate yourself about the war and especially your relatives in the states and their political contacts. I particularly would like to hear a lot more from national and local veterans groups, all of which certainly should support this effort.
Let’s use our best efforts to interest national media in another case of injustice which should be righted.
We’ve fought for this recognition in many ways since 1945 and cannot forget those who sacrificed everything they had during the occupation. With new leadership arriving in Washington shortly, we must ensure that ignorance doesn’t prevail and that Guam, at long last, gets its just recognition!