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WWII Liberators

If you're in Guam in the month of July, you'll have a chance to see how the island celebrates the end of the Japanese occupation, which lasted from 1941 until 1944.

July 21 is Liberation Day, but the whole month is marked with parades, fireworks, and other commemorative events. Guam crowns a Liberation Queen, and families and friends get together to enjoy festive spectacles around the island and to share in the spirit of remembrance.

On December 8, 1941, almost simultaneous with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers launched a series of air raids on Guam. Guam's small forces were outmatched, and the island was surrendered to the Japanese after two days.

The occupation was marked by close controls on access to media, transportation, and food. Suspected supporters of an underground insurgency were subject to persecution including torture.

In early 1944, threat of an American invasion loomed and thousands of Chamorros were marched to concentration camps in the central and southern jungles of the island.

The Americans retook Guam beginning with the landing of 55,000 troops on the island's beaches on July 21, followed by a three-week march to Ritidian Point in the north. Nearly 25,000 American and Japanese troops lost their lives in the fighting.