ON any ordinary day, this certain area at American Memorial Park is usually deserted except for a few passersby who jog around, but once a year, this place hogs the spotlight as the community members troop there to pay honor to the veterans and soldiers who have sacrificed so much for today’s generation.
From afar, the Court of Honor and Flag Circle looks just like any oval area with several steps leading to a platform with five flagpoles. You can see five flags waving in the wind amid colorful blooms especially during the summer, but there is more to the concrete steps and flags in this oval than you would think.
Jog around the area on an ordinary morning or afternoon and all you will see is the circle, with the U.S. flag in the center flanked by the Service Flags of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force (Army Air Corps). But join the other guests on November 11 each year and you will notice a change — the place adopts a whole new atmosphere and becomes the site where the veterans are honored and the fallen heroes are remembered for their heroic deeds.
The Court of Honor and Flag Circle is actually a memorial to the Americans and people of the Marianas who died in the battles for Saipan and Tinian, or the “Operation Forager” and the battle of the Philippine Sea during World War 11.
If you look closely, there are 26 granite plates at the Court of Honor where the names of over 5,000 Marines, Army, and Navy personnel who were killed or listed as missing-in-action were inscribed. Records showed that over 150 World War 11 veterans and their families returned to Saipan from the mainland for a reunion on June 15, 1994, or 50 years later to the battles for Saipan and Tinian to dedicate the Court of Honor and Flag Circle at American Memorial Park. Veterans and Saipan residents who endured the war also gathered at the Court of Honor after a parade along Beach Road in Garapan for the dedication which ended with fireworks and concerts in the evening.
The next time you jog or stroll around the Court of Honor and Flag Circle, think beyond the cemented steps and flagpoles and thank the over 5,000 heroes who sacrificed their lives for the freedom you are enjoying today.