A Guamanian Century
The Inaugural Address of the Honorable Eddie Baza Calvo
Governor of Guahan (Guam)
3rd January 2011
My Fellow Guamanians,
When I woke up this morning, I saw my beautiful wife, and I thought about my six beautiful kids, and I gave thanks for the gracious favor of the Almighty Lord. Christine, Eddie, Vinson, Rosae, PJ, Melva and Celine, thank you for sharing this tremendous duty and responsibility with me. Thank you, mom and dad, for teaching me that to whom much is given, much is expected.
Before I begin, I want all of you to look upon this chair Christine and I have reserved here in the front. It is a seat for those who cannot be with us tonight. In this celebration of a new government, we start by remembering the unborn and our men and women off at war. From this night forward, you will not be forgotten in our administration.
It is with a deep sense of pride and immense humility that I take to this podium on this clear evening.
Look around this beautiful island. This Cathedral has been here for nearly 400 years. This Plaza represents centuries of government. Not five miles away is the largest harbor in the region. At dusk, hundreds of thousands of people will turn on their lights, and from the heavens, this island will look like the brightest star in a sea of Pacific nations. Resting below latte stones and ancient sites are the spirits of a people reawakened at this hour by the excitement of a new century… a Guamanian Century of pride, prosperity and opportunity.
We’ve gone through our lives never asking for much. We’ve seen challenges and we’ve lived through the good times. We’ve been asked to sacrifice, and we’ve given so freely to those who’ve asked. In the short time all of us have been on this earth, we’ve seen ourselves as a part of someone else’s plan. We’ve waited for what others could offer, or we’ve settled for so much less than we can achieve. No more. Silent for centuries has been our story of greatness and ingenuity. Tonight, our star shines brighter, illuminating our history and our path to tomorrow.
I’ve heard too many times that our lives and interests belong only to this corner of the world. People have said that no one knows about Guam… that nobody cares what we do. I’ve heard critics doubt our ability to compete against the best in the world. They say our children can’t make it because public school test scores are too low. They say our government is broken and cannot change. They say we’re too far from the rest of the world. I tell you this tonight and for the remainder of my time as governor:
We are a very special people… on a very special place… at a very special time. We’ve been here for 4,000 years – one of the earliest inhabited islands of the Pacific. Our civilization began before Moses brought the 10 Commandments down from Mount Sinai. We were around before Rome was built. Guamanians were in control of their destiny before the first republics in Greece, before the Magna Carta, before the French Revolution, and before the Declaration of Independence. Who can question our existence or our contributions? It is time to embrace our identity as Guamanians. We are here, and we should be proud of who we are, where we came from and what we can become.
I am not content with the belief that we are struggling for our corner of the world. In my view, we are working to conquer our challenges and to set the world’s eyes upon us.
The public school system isn’t where we want it to be, but it is not beyond our reach to graduate your children in to rewarding careers. The traffic on the roads today and the lack of water and sewer services for many families are problems we can one day put in our past. The government has a large debt and a hard time paying its bills, but the fiscal crisis isn’t so insurmountable that we should give up and let others take over. There are problems everywhere, but only two roads to take. We can dwell on the challenges and surrender centuries of resolve against the odds. Or, we can be bold and proud. We can exemplify the highest virtues of Guamanians and lead change for ourselves.
Most importantly, we must do this together. With the new year and the people’s expectation for a new direction, Lt. Governor Tenorio and I are leaving in the past the politics of division and partisanship. We bring to our Cabinet people fully dedicated and completely committed to selfless public service. They have big hearts, new ideas and a strong determination to do what is right.
I know that sometimes doing what is right isn’t always popular. But, you’ve elected 15 extraordinary men and women to help Lt. Governor Tenorio and I make the tough decisions we need to overcome the challenges. Indeed, the vision of Guam I share with you tonight is nothing novel. I know the 15 senators you elected. They are our friends. Our belief in the greatness of Guam transcends all political lines. I would be remiss if tonight I did not reopen the lines of communication and invite my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, to this new and exciting direction.
As servants of the people, we need each other to make things right. The public and future generations deserve it. Given your talents and core values, I know there really isn’t one issue we cannot tackle or address together. Your partnership is necessary for success.
This is the challenge I place before all Guamanians today. We are in the advent of the single-largest economic buildup in our history. It will be our buildup, or someone else’s. We can lead this change. Unabashed and unwavering, we can work hard and stand tall. We can join each other with a common vision of strong families and better days. Why not? If 500 years ago, we could build the fastest sea vessel in the world without anyone’s help, then today excellence is only within reach.
And how? How can we, a people who struggle with so many challenges, conquer this future and live out our dreams? As a people, we’ve answered that question over and over for 4,000 years. No one helped us to engineer and erect latte stones. We did that on our own. No one taught us how to preserve food with salt hundreds of years before refrigeration. We learned that ourselves. And while the Spaniards, the Dutch and the English were trying desperately to navigate the world on the high seas, our proa was flying right past them, built alone by the hands of the people of Guam.
There is nothing we cannot do. My fellow Guamanians, we can build the Guamanian Century, and it will be built by the Guamanian Dream.
In these times of change and great uncertainty, everywhere we are looking for heroes. Look no where but among ourselves, for the greatness of our Guamanian Century rests within each of us. It is your contribution that will make the difference.
Without compromise or question… with commitment and sacrifice… we can rise well above the expectations of our great history. We will not accept the hand we are dealt. We will not go quietly in to the night. We will turn to our children and tell them the future belongs to them. That they can compete against the best in the world… and win.
One day, it will be your child who people will go to for the latest in medical technology. One day, the most important innovation will bear the name of a Guamanian inventor. Countless Guamanians will be called “experts” or “preeminent” or “prolific” or ”masters”. Guamanians have the talent, intelligence, drive, and passion to be the best at whatever they set their minds on. The sky is the limit.
One of your children will stand where I am standing 20 years from now. And on that night, because of the work that begins today, Guam will be stronger and her star will shine brighter.
I have this impenetrable faith in our future, because we are Guamanians.
Irony and destiny surrounded the eve of this inauguration, this peaceful yet significant changing of government. The irony is that I am a proud American citizen, and at the same time, a proud Chamorro Guamanian who believes unwaveringly in the greatness of Guam. It may seem difficult to reconcile such allegiances in light of actions the federal government has taken recently. But, three days after Christmas, the story of a man named Darrell Doss put everything in to perspective.
Darrell Doss is an American hero and a Guamanian liberator. He came to our island 66 years ago to free us from our occupiers. He fell in love with Guam. He longed to be part of us. He looked upon this place, leveled by bombs and war, and he said it was the most beautiful place he’d ever seen. Interestingly, on July 23, seven years ago, Darrell Doss wrote about our political status:
"Fifty-nine years ago, on July 21, 1944, I and more than 57,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors came ashore on the beaches of Asan and Agat, and were honored to be referred to as ‘liberators.’ But in the end, we failed to accomplish what we had come to do -- liberate you.
“More correctly, our government failed both of us by not granting the people of Guam full citizenship. Another injustice is not allowing Guam to have equal say, as we in the states do in governing your island home. Please remember, we men who landed on your shores July 21, 1944, shall never be fully satisfied until you are fully liberated."
A man with no ties to this place except a memory of its people stood up for us and, more importantly, considered himself one of us. He said, and I quote, “Thank you, my fellow Chamorros, for in my heart I am one of you.”
My fellow Guamanians, even heroes look up to us. Even they recognize what is so special about this land. It is time for us to reclaim that pride and to work toward what we all know we can do.
We are instruments of a greater power… called to action with a larger purpose… reawakened for a higher cause. We know what to do and we have the courage to do it.
This is the land of the proa and the home of the Guamanian. This is our land.
Banidosu yu na Chamorro… and I call on you, all Guamanians, to be strong and to stand tall… Fanhogge Chamorro… for the future belongs to us.
Si Yu’us Ma’ase yan Si Yu’us en Fan’Bee-Nen-Deesee I Islan Guam.