BY GEORGINA KEKEA
TODAY marks a historical event in the country’s calendar. 76 years ago on this date, August 7, 1942, the Guadalcanal campaign began when 11,000 marines of the 1st marine division landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi including the Florida islands in Central province.
To commemorate this day, a number of events and activities will take place commencing with a memorial service and laying of wreaths at the United States Memorial at Skyline. The service at Skyline remembers the day when the 1st US marines landed on Guadalcanal and took part in what was known as the beginning of the Battle of Guadalcanal or the Guadalcanal campaign. The battle lasted from August 7, 1942 to February 1943.
Following the memorial at Skyline, a memorial service hosted by Solomon Scouts and Coast Watcher Trust Board will take place at the Commonwealth Street. This is to remember the locals and coast watchers who played a significant role in the battle of Guadalcanal some 70 years ago. It was said that the coast watchers ‘watched and warned that we might live’.
In 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, Bruce Saunders, Chairman of the Solomon Scouts and Coast watchers Trust Board said over the years when people spoke about the Solomon Scouts, people who work with the coast watchers, they never said I am a scout from Isabel or Malaita or West, they always say they are the Solomon’s Scout.
Saunders at that time was speaking on the initiative to build the monument at Commonwealth Street to remember the Solomon Scouts.
“You should be proud of what your forebears have done for this country and for mankind. As was said, the Solomon Islands gave freedom to the Pacific. No other country can say that. Because it was here the tide turned and eventually victory took place.”
The last of the commemoration for today’s event will take place at the Point Cruz Yacht Club in honor of Signalman 1st Class, Douglas Munro.
Munro is the only member of the United States Coast Guard to have received the Medal of Honour, the United States highest military award.
History books reported Munro as gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty when he was engaged in the evacuation of a Battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz on September 27, 1942. Munro was reported to risk his life when he daringly led five of his small craft toward the shore and valiantly placed his craft with his two small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. Munro was killed by enemy fire but his crew carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. Only two of his crew were wounded that time. For that he was awarded this military award. During the celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle of Guadalcanal last year, a plaque was placed at the Yacht Club in remembrance of this war hero.
Last year during the 75th Anniversary, Japan’s ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Kenichi Kimiya has said that nowadays, more than 80 percent of the generation are those with no experience of the war.
“I believe we should be aware that the peace and prosperity we are enjoying now, exist solely on the enormous sacrifice made during the war. We should never forget to hand down the experiences of the sacrifice of war, to the future generations,” HE Kimiya has said.
This date will always remain in our calendar, to remind us of the role our forbearers had played during the war.
The United States Deputy Chief of Mission to Solomon Islands, Mr. Bernard Link together with American Battle Monuments Commissioner, Larry Adkison and United States Consular Agent, Ms Keithie Saunders are hosting these commemorative events today.