ECU reading education faculty member works with veterans, families & WWII survivors in Saipan

Dr. Anne Ticknor, ECU associate professor in reading education, completed a second trip to Saipan to implement a second series of the discussion program, War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage. This program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Standing Together initiative, is unique in that it targets a poorly represented and supported veteran community – Indigenous Pacific Islanders. According to the U.S. Census there are 27, 469 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander veterans living in the United States, and 685 in Saipan.

Dialogues on the Experiences of WarProgram director Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor in maritime studies, and project leaders Dr. Ticknor and Dr. Anna Froula, associate professor in Film Studies, trained local community leaders in Saipan with backgrounds in the humanities and veterans affairs as discussion leaders. Discussion leaders then conducted a series of discussions, using humanities texts as a touchstone, with local, primarily Chamorro and Carolinian veterans, veteran families and survivors of war. The initial training and discussion series, including memorial and archaeological site visits, was offered in July, then repeated again in early October. Dr. Ticknor facilitated both July and October activities.

Four members of the War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage program were interviewed for an episode of Beyond the Fence on Public Radio Guam-KPRG 89.3 FM (89.1 FM in the CNMI), which aired October 20, 2017. Podcasts of most episodes are available for free and may be downloaded within five days of the broadcast by going to:

Ep. 266 “War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and produced by David Lopez) was recorded 10/16-17/17 and airs 10/20/17.

This episode features interviews with four key participants in War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage, a project of East Carolina University in partnership with the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Historic Preservation Office. The purpose of this project was to engage veterans of contemporary wars, surviving civilian participants of World War II, and families of military personnel in considering how war and its difficult heritage can be seen as universal to humanity and how it can be used to examine veterans’ experience and to heal and renew in post-conflict or post-colonial contexts.

War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage participants:

Dialogues on the Experience of War DiscussionDr. Jennifer McKinnon is the Project Director for the War in the Pacific: A Difficult Heritage program. She is an associate professor at East Carolina University with a background in historical and maritime archaeology and cultural heritage management. She has worked in the US, Australia, and the Pacific on sites ranging from the colonial period to WWII. She has published a number of book chapters and journal articles and recently co-edited (with Dr. Toni L. Carrell) a new book with Springer Press entitled, Underwater Archaeology of a Pacific Battlefield: The WWII Battle of Saipan. Her interest in engaging the community in archaeology and heritage is at the forefront of her research and why she has been working in the Marianas for over ten years.

Genevieve S. Cabrera is a Chamorro cultural historian who is actively involved with the indigenous cultural history and archaeology of the Northern Mariana Islands and with issues that directly or indirectly affect the development and comprehension of this history. Her background is in history, art history, and cultural anthropology and she is currently pursuing research on the rock art of the Northern Mariana Islands. She facilitated the discussion on “Indigenous Identity” and led the archaeological site tours.

Eulalia ‘Lolly’ Villagomez Arriola is the former Program Officer and now an independent contractor for the Northern Marianas Humanities Council. She was with the Council for over five years and started the programming for Veterans with initial funding from the Standing Together Initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lolly graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in 2006. She facilitated the discussion on “Memorialization” and served as the logistics and planning lead for the program.

SPC John Paul Attao is a 48-year-old Chamorro disabled veteran who served nine years in the infantry division of the US Army Reserves, including two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He participated in both the July and October discussion series. He provides comment on his participation in this program and the discussions, in particular, of “The Enemy” and “Civilians”, with reference to current plans for the military buildup in the Marianas and escalating threats of nuclear war.