Northern Mariana Islands Liberation Day Date in the current year: July 4, 2024

Northern Mariana Islands Liberation Day The Northern Mariana Islands is an incorporated territory of the United States, so it recognizes all U.S. federal holidays, including Independence Day (the Fourth of July). However, it also celebrates its own holiday on the same day, called the Northern Mariana Islands Liberation Day (CNMI Liberation Day).

The Mariana Islands, situated in Micronesia, are politically divided into two organized, unincorporated territories of the United States: the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Before the arrival of Europeans, the islands were settled by a subgroup of Austronesians called Chamorros. The first Europeans to set foot on the archipelago were the members of a Spanish expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

In 1565, the islands were claimed by the Spanish Crown. The archipelago received its current name in 1668. It was named after Mariana of Austria, the widow of King Philip IV and regent of Spain. When the Spanish colonization began in earnest, most Chamorros were forcibly moved to Guam, while the rest of the islands were settled by immigrants from Spain, the Philippines, and the Caroline Islands.

In 1898, Spain lost the Spanish—American War. As a result, it ceded Guam to the United States and sold what is now the Northern Mariana Islands to the German Empire. The Northern Marianas were incorporated into German New Guinea.

During World War I, the Caroline, Mariana, and Marshall Islands surrendered to the Japanese army practically without a fight. Following Germany’s defeat in the war, the German Empire was stripped of all its colonies. The League of Nations gave former German possessions in the Pacific Ocean lying north of the equator to Japan.

In the interwar period, Japan focused on the development of military infrastructure on the islands. These works were carried out in secret, as they violated the Washington Naval Treaty, signed in 1922 by the governments of the UK, United States, Italy, France, and Japan.

In December 1941, Japan launched an attack on Guam from the Northern Marianas, capturing the island and gaining control over the entire Mariana Islands. In June 1944, the United States launched Operation Forager, aiming to capture Palau and the Marianas. On July 9, the U.S. military officially secured the island of Saipan; a month later the United States captured Tinian and recaptured Guam.

However, CNMI Liberation Day does not commemorate the capture of the Northern Marianas by the United States. It was established to commemorate July 4, 1946, the day when civilians held in Camp Susupe on Saipan (2,230 Chamorros and 800 Carolinians) were released from the camp. Ever since their liberation, July 4 has been celebrated as Liberation Day in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

CNMI Liberation Day is marked with remembrance ceremonies, colorful parades, concerts, parties, and other events that both honor the memory of those who died and suffered during World War II and celebrate the history and culture of the Northern Marianas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Liberation Day was commemorated virtually.

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Northern Mariana Islands Liberation Day, CNMI Liberation Day, holidays in the Northern Mariana Islands, public holidays