SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Former Sumay village residents and their descendants attended the annual Sumay Memorial Mass at Sumay Cemetery aboard U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) July 20.
Sumay Village was known as the Pearl of Guam. It was a flourishing coastal town and a hub of commerce. On December 8, 1941, that would all change when bombs dropped by Japanese planes forced the residents of Sumay to flee their once thriving and lively village. Those who stayed would be evacuated by Japanese soldiers and all that would be left behind was a cross from the village church, a few ruined structures, and the village cemetery.
Today, many of the former Sumay residents and their families live in Santa Rita, a village formed after the liberation of Guam in 1944.
Each year, NBG in partnership with the Santa Rita Mayor’s Office, works together to hold the memorial Mass. Former Sumay residents, their families, and other guests are welcome to honor the loved ones who have gone before them buried at the Sumay Village Cemetery.
“It’s just another chance to seal our relationships our friendships that we have between the ancient village of Sumay, Naval Base Guam, and the village of Santa Rita,” said NBG Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Grimes.
The memorial takes place once a year, but Grimes explained that there is a continued effort to preserve the cemetery for generations to come.
“We’ve partnered with the National Historic Preservation Association (NHPA) and under the NHPA acts to preserve and restore this place to its proper ceremonial standard that it should be,” Grimes said. “At the same time, we’re able to come back here every year and let the families - some still alive today who remember living here, others whose family members were buried here - to come back and have the opportunity to return, say hello to their families, and remember the past and hopefully take a new stance for the future.”
Guam resident Maria Espinosa Quinata attended the memorial mass and led the Catholic rosary.
“It’s kind of hard to think of all the sufferings our parents endured during the war,” Quinata said. “(The memorial mass) is beautiful and I hope that the next generation will continue this because it’s a reminder of what our parents and families went through.”
Santa Rita Mayor, Dale Alvarez said as long as he is mayor he hopes to continue the tradition in partnership with NBG.
“They always invite us down every year,” Alvarez said. “I really want to thank my partners … for making this a successful event and I want to thank the Sumay people for coming to honor their dead.”
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.