September 11 – Liberation Day in Pohnpei

Posted on September 11, 2015

When I see a holiday named “Liberation Day,” I automatically wonder “liberated from whom?”

In this case, knowing that Pohnpei is an island in the Pacific nation of Micronesia, I assumed that it MIGHT be liberation from the Japanese at the end of World War II. And...I was right!

On this date in 1945, U.S. Navy forces accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces on Pohnpei. (The Japanese who had taken Pohnpei from Germany during World War I, and then continued to occupy the island in the years between the World Wars!) The U.S. flag was raised over the island, and America administered this and other Pacific islands for about four decades.

I read that natives of Pohnpei refer to parts of history, not so much by decades and centuries, but as “German times,” “American times,” “Japanese times,” and so forth.

Here is the “so forth”:
Native Period – before 1825

Pre-Spanish – 1825 – 1886

Spanish Period – 1886 – 1899

German Period – 1899 – 1914

Japanese Period – 1914 – 1945

American Period – 1945 – 1986

Independence – 1986 on


What's special about Pohnpei?



The capital city of a long-gone dynasty is now ruins – partly poking up out of the waters of a lagoon, and partly still underwater. There are almost 100 tiny artificial islands linked by canals. The artificial islands are made of stone- and coral-fill platforms.

The name of this ruined city is Nan Madol, which translates to “spaces between,” a reference to the canals. The original name was Soun Nan-leng, or Reef of Heaven, and a nickname is “the Venice of the Pacific.”

This city was built from around 1200 to around 1628.


Kepirohi Waterfall feeds a large lake that is a popular spot for swimming.



Sokehs Rock was a teeny island off the coast of Pohnpei – but then mangroves grew up between and connected the two. The rock is basalt, which is volcanic rock.


Ant Atoll is a ring-shaped coral atoll off the coast of Pohnpei. An atoll is created when corals slowly grow around an island, forming a ring, and then the island sinks below the ocean. All that is left is the ring!

In this picture of Ant Atoll seen from space, you can see that much of the ring of coral reefs is underwater (that's the blue part), but some of the reef has built up high enough that soil and plants colonized sections (that's the bright green part).

Of course, atolls are great places for diving. Ant Atoll is good for birdwatching, too.









Also on this date:

















National Day of Remembrance (all U.S.)





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