Friday, October 28, 2011

Peace Memorial on a cliff top

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolSITUATED over 800 feet above sea level is a must-see and must-visit mountaintop on Saipan that has played a very important part in the island’s history.
Standing near the railing at the view deck of Suicide Cliff on a Friday noon was not in my plan but there I was last week, cameras slung around my neck ready to take another batch of photos of the place where thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians choose to jump to their deaths than to surrender to the American troops during the war.
Turning away from the breathtaking views of the Veterans Cemetery and the blue ocean that stretched for miles and miles away, I walked a few paces to the Peace Memorial, a monument that has claimed visits from thousands of tourists, each year. Most of the visitors are Japanese who come to offer flowers and food to their dead ancestors.
According to the sign at the foot of the monument, the Peace Memorial was constructed to console the spirits of those who died — regardless of their nationality — at this historic area and to remind the people of the tragic futility of war. The memorial is built with hopes that everlasting peace and friendship will prevail among mankind
The construction of the Peace Memorial came through the efforts of the people who lived in the Pacific islands and it was dedicated in 1972 during the Trust Territory government.
During the early months of the year, the Peace Memorial takes on a spectacular view as the flame trees blossom where its flaming red and orange flowers provide a wonderful contrast to the blue skies and lush foliage.
Sadly, burglary incidents have been reported happening in this Peace Memorial site and at Suicide Cliff.
With no security in the area and with overgrown bushes at the side of the Peace Memorial leading to the Banadero Trail,  a thief can get away easily after robbing a tourist.
Stakeholders in the tourism industry said the government should look into clearing these bushes and jungle area so criminals will have nowhere to hide. Visitors feel safe and peaceful. After all, this is a Peace Memorial.