Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A living memorial on Saipan

ONE of the must-visit sites on Saipan is American Memorial Park in Garapan, a huge park which serves as a bank of World War 11 memorabilia and a recreation park rolled into one.
National Park Service Ranger Nancy Kelchner said AMP gets a fair share of about 10,000 tourists and about 50 field trips a year.
“Majority of the tourists who drop in are from Japan, Korea, China, Mainlanders (U.S.), Russia and other countries, while the field trips are from the different schools in the CNMI and Guam,” Kelchner said. She said the AMP is designed to be a living memorial for all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the island.
The AMP Visitors Center and WW11 Exhibit Hall just turned three years old on May 28 but already, it is gaining a steady stream of visits from locals and tourists.
A brief tour of the Exhibit Hall brings poignant memories of what transpired during the bloodiest battles fought in the island during the World War 11. You can’t help but feel goose bumps as you go through the pictures, recordings and artifacts on display, remnants of the bloody war that claimed thousands of lives years ago.
The Exhibit area has three sections–the Pre-war life, At War on Saipan and After the Battle section. Here is one hall where the chronology of the battle was recorded with artifacts that were mute witnesses of the actual events. Exiting the exhibit hall brings you to an atrium where you can reflect on the war and its impact on the islands. Opposite the reflection wall where you can see the Court of Honor and the Marianas Memorial is the Recovery Wall where colorful pictures are depicted indicating the “recovery from the ashes of the war”. This is indicative that there is life after the war.
A small library is available to help researchers and scholars, a bookshop containing English and Japanese books, videos and other merchandise related to the WW11 and the National Park Service, a 120-seater auditorium which is available for meetings, conferences, film showings, lectures and presentations.
Within American Memorial Park are amenities that the community finds useful like the Amphitheater, Micro beach pavilion, a jogging bike path under the shades of the ironwood trees, Marina and Microbeach restrooms, tennis courts, the Carillon Bell Tower where you can sit for meditation or relaxation, and the whole park which is also home to mangrove forests, native birds and other species.
The Visitors Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. Admission is free for everybody. For more information, please call (670) 234-7207, fax 234-6698, or email