The Marianas Campaign of July 1944 was the beginning of the end of World War II in the Pacific. When U.S. Marines took Saipan, they cut off Japanese supply lines and positioned B-29 bombers within range of Tokyo.
The American Memorial Park commemorates more than 5,000 American troops and Mariana Islanders who lost their lives during this decisive campaign. Their names are inscribed on a memorial in the Court of Honor, surrounded by the flags of the U.S. and its armed forces. Every half hour, the Carillon Belltower rings in memory of the lost.
This is a living memorial, as well. Visitors can walk or cycle to Smiling Cove Marina or the brilliant white sand Micro Beach, one of the world’s best windsurfing sites. A stroll through the park’s mangrove forest and wetland offers a chance to see endangered native birds.
The 133-acre park is dotted with picnic sites, tennis courts, and a playground, as well as many WWII-era historic sites, including concrete “pillboxes” where Japanese soldiers hid during the war. In April, the park hosts the Flame Tree Festival, a celebration of the culture of the Marianas and Micronesia.
If You Go
Keep an eye out for the coconut crab, a native species that can grow to 12 inches in diameter.
Did You Know?The flame trees, seen throughout American Memorial Park, are named for bright red and orange flowers that bloom in the spring, making the trees look as if they’ve burst into flames.