Before starting to tell you about the movie, I have to say that this was by far the GREATEST of them all. This documentary- this story, was absolutely mind-blowing.
We got to know the story of the American colonization of several Polynesian islands, the Guanos. The project started during the 1930s, around when the New Deal was imposed. In 1936 President Roosevelt declared them American.
Working at these islands were young boys who had been enrolled at their High Schools. The volunteers were mainly native Hawaiians. They were young and adventurous, but did they really know what they had now had become a part of? Had they been told the dangers and the real reasons for why they were there, or did the American Government leave that out?
At first they had no communication with the rest of the world. With time passing by they expanded the project and they got radios so that they could connect and rapport to the mainland. They were going to rapport EVERYTHING: weather, vegetation, species, you name it. They did not know for what exact reason they were doing these things. For them it was almost like a holiday. At the islands they made surfboards of shipwrecks, but of course, they got homesick. They asked themselves: “What the hell did we come here for?”
Having to be supplied with everything, especially water; they were extremely dependent on ships bringing them food. Normally the boats would come every third month. Amelia Earhart, the female pilot, was supposed to visit them, but during her flight to the islands her plane crashed. Because of the accident the boys had to wait almost six months before they were supplied.
During the war the islands were important for the American Government. Having Japan as a threat they served to keep an eye on the area around. Planes circled around them, and bombs were dropped. Two men lost their lives, but to evacuate them all took quite some time. They didn’t actually know that the war had started, and they were in great danger, but they weren’t rescued until 9th February 1942. When they came home and rejoined with their families they weren’t allowed to talk about the adventure. So this was almost a lost story, discovered accidentally.
They also served for the country, as much as those carrying the guns, but they weren’t properly honored until 66 years after. At least now the story is told in a proper manner and more people will hear about it; at least I will spread it around and make others aware of it, because I believe it and they deserve the honor. As it was pointed out beautifully in the movie: “In order to know who we are, we need to know who they were.” After all, they are important for the American culture and history and have contributed a lot.
I don’t know why this story appealed to me, but I guess it is because I had never heard it before. The fact that young boys volunteered and travelled there without knowing how long they had to stay there is amazing. Making a movie about this event is important, in order to inform the citizens of America- as well as rest of the world. This is the first time we get THEIR side of the story. They have the possibility to tell us how they experienced the whole event, both the negative aspects as well as the positive ones.
The director of the movie, Noelle Kahanu, was there during the screening, and afterwards she shared with us her feelings. She expressed how important the making of the movie had been for her. Her grandfather was one of the participants. Only three of the participants are alive today. You could see that she was touched and that this story is an important part of her life.
I watched the movie together with my friend, Kristian, and we have added a short movie about what she said, and we can clearly see what the movie meant for her, and how important it was to figure out about this important historical event. (the movie will be posted later)