Flags of Our Nation
Issue Date: September 2, 2008
City: Washington, DC
Guam’s flag was designed and adopted in 1917. The flag consists of a red border, representing the blood shed by the people of Guam while under Spanish rule and World War II. Within the border is a blue field, symbolic of the Pacific Ocean which surrounds the island.
The central focus of the flag is the Great Seal of Guam. The seal is designed in the shape of a sling stone, which was used by the native Chamorro people to hunt and fight, symbolizing survival. Inside the sling stone is a coconut palm, symbolizing perseverance and sustenance. There is a canoe, known as a flying proa, which represents courage and freedom. The seal also shows a river leading to the sea, showing Guam’s readiness to share its resources. In the background is Two Lovers’ Point, representing Guam’s faithfulness and commitment to its future people.
The governor’s office of Guam, located in Hagåtña, was a school until it was converted in 1990. It was named the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex in 2005 after the late governor. Guam’s motto is “Where America’s Day Begins,” because the territory is the westernmost point of the U.S.
The Guam territory Flag stamp is part of the 2008 Flags of Our Nation Series.
Battle Of Guam
On July 21, 1944, US troops landed on Guam, initiating a three-week battle to recapture the island.
The largest of the Mariana Islands, Guam had been a United States possession since its capture from Spain in 1898. However, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces took the island on December 10, 1941.
In June 1944, the Allies launched Operation Forager to capture the Mariana Islands and Palau in the Pacific. They chose Saipan, Tinian, and Guam because of their size and ability to serve as supporting bases for the next phase of operations against the Philippines, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands.
The invasion of Saipan came first, on June 15. The plan was to then invade Guam on June 18; however, there was a much larger Japanese force on Saipan than expected, so the battle for Guam had to be delayed for over a month.
While the battle for Saipan continued, American naval and air forces bombarded Guam. A week before the invasion, underwater demolition teams came in and removed beach obstacles. The battle for Guam officially began on July 21, 1944, with members of the 3rdMarine Division landing at 8:29 am. The Japanese put up a stiff defense, sinking 20 US LVTs and inflicting many casualties. But the Marines pressed on and had men and tanks on two beaches by 9:00 am.
The island’s reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf made the invasion difficult, but the Allies managed to secure two beachheads 6,600 feet deep by the first night. The Japanese launched several counterattacks at night, but all were repelled with high casualties.
It was initially difficult for the Americans to get supplies, as their landing ships couldn’t come any closer than the reef. But by July 25 they joined both beachheads and then captured the Orote airfield and Apra Harbor by July 30.
By early August, the Japanese were running out of food and ammunition and sought to make a stand in the mountains. But as the Allies controlled the surrounding sea and air, all the Japanese could do was delay their inevitable defeat. The Japanese line eventually collapsed, their resistance ended on August 10, and the island was declared secure. A few Japanese soldiers remained in the jungle, including one who was discovered in 1972 after living in a cave for 28 years!
After the battle, Guam served as an Allied base with five large airfields, which were used to launch attacks on targets in the Western Pacific and Japan. Today, the people of Guam celebrate July 21 as Liberation Day.