SAIPAN - Sailors and embarked midshipmen of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) participated in a local parade, July 4, to commemorate Liberation Day in Saipan.
The island of Saipan celebrates Liberation Day to mark the June 15, 1945, opening of the gates of Camp Susupe where most of Saipan's residents at that time were interred after the end of World War II. Saipan used to be a colony of Japan and was the scene of many bloody battles during the Pacific War.
"Freedom is not free," said Vicente C. Camacho, Liberation Day 2013 committee chairman. "Many have perished to protect a race, a religion, a country, or a nation. In order to instill this sentiment to the community, we must remind ourselves why we celebrate Liberation Day."
Liberation Day gave the Sailors and midshipmen a unique opportunity to show their support for the local communities of Saipan.
"In any existing relationship, the key fundamental to making that relationship stronger is by being supportive," said Senior Chief Fire Controlman Thomas Masanotti. "Sailors of the Momsen are here today, not only to celebrate Independence Day but to also march alongside of the local people in Saipan to support the celebration of their Liberation Day."
Even though the weather was not optimal for a parade, the participants marched forward even during the rain.
"Marching as drops of rain hit my face didn't really bother me after I saw all the love and support that we were receiving from the local people," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Riley Knox. "The people of Saipan take a lot of pride in Liberation Day and I felt honored to be a participant in the parade."
Camacho took the opportunity to thank everyone who had a part in making the 2013 Liberation Day festivities possible.
"I am very grateful that the crew of USS Momsen came to support our celebration today," said Camacho. "For next year's Liberation Day, I hope to have the chance to invite all branches of the Armed Forces and showcase them in full gear!"
Momsen is in Saipan for a port visit during a patrol with the George Washington Strike Group in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.