Ogletree Gap Park was filled with excitement Saturday as hundreds of residents from surrounding communities, and adjoining cities along with the mayors of Killeen and Copperas Cove came to celebrate the 74th Guam liberation day hosted by the Chamorro Association of Central Texas.
“It’s a pleasure having this year’s celebration here in Copperas Cove,” said Frank Seffrood, mayor of Copperas Cove. “This celebration is worth having because it shows that Copperas Cove is a melting pot.”
This year’s celebration welcomed people from the texas cities such as Dallas, and states including New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma.
The celebration solemnizes the emancipation of Guam from the Japanese by U.S. forces, which took place July 21, 1944. The event also celebrates the soldiers who lost their lives in that battle.
“I love my culture and seeing it all over in this park makes me proud,” said Scott Pangilinan a local vendor. “I am proud to sell the latte stone. These stones are what we would build our homes or huts on which would help to prevent flooding.”
The celebration was a family event, where groups performing dances indigenous to the island. The 74th Guam liberation day welcomed vendors who sold indigenous wears and food directly influenced by the culture of Guam.
People who were not musically gifted sat and watched as others danced to the sound of Jamaican reggae singer Marcia Griffiths, a former background singer for the reggae icon Bob Marley.
The DJ also played indigenous music attendees knew from their early childhood days.
“This is the third year that we are having the liberation at this location and this year I am seeing a bigger turnout,” said Joseph Pangilinan, public affairs officer of the Chamorro Association of Central Texas.
At this year’s 74th Guam liberation, it was more than just that; it was a celebration and one that many residents are looking forward to next year.
“Year after year, I mark my calendar for this event,” said Marylee Mafnas-Santos. “This a family affair; it’s like I’m back home.”
“I am glad that I am here to celebrate in this year’s celebration; diversity is key,” said Killeen Mayor Jose L. Segarra. “The history and reason behind this celebration is one that should not be overlooked. It deserves to be commemorated this way.”