Sunday's parade to mark the 75 years since U.S. troops gave their lives or risked their safety to free Guam from the brutal Japanese occupation in World War II was a memorable experience for many.

The parade delivered a festive mood fit for the celebration. It allowed families to hold reunions along the parade route, complete with barbecues. Our living survivors of the war were honored. In the days leading up to the parade, there were various commemorations to ensure that the suffering and sacrifices of those on Guam during the years that the Japanese massacred, tortured and forced many to live in camps and provide free labor were properly given tribute as well.

During the parade, the local community, tourists and military personnel and their families all came together to participate in the parade or watch it.

It was a unifying moment, and we could use more of these events that offer us a chance to get to know what unites us rather than what pits us against each other.

We recognize the countless hours spent by the organizers of the parade itself and the many others who were in charge of putting together the elaborately prepared and gorgeous parade floats from the villages, government of Guam agencies, nonprofits and business sector. These floats require weeks and sometimes months of planning and execution, not to mention lots of volunteers' hard work.

Many businesses came out to offer free items, from treats and beverages to food coupons and Liberation Day memorabilia.

The parade preparations also allowed multiple government entities including mayors' offices, the executive branch, our public safety representatives and federal and military partners to work together and help ensure we were treated to a celebratory and safe parade.

Next year, and in the coming years, we hope to see more participants who showcase local culture and further highlight the community that we have become as a combined melting pot of cultures, including performances and food.

There are many ways to make the celebration for the 76th Liberation Day and beyond a better reflection of us and our community.

While Guam's own Pia Mia was among the number of highlights at the parade, we need to see more of our local youth participate and showcase their talents, whether they're known in their schools, in the community or nationwide.

The money that was spent on Philippine show business personalities could have been better used on showcasing the talents of our local artists and award-winning performing arts groups. At this celebration, we need more emphasis on talent that is truly Guam's own.

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