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History books should include contributions of Pacific isles

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, June 30, 2008) - The U.S. House passed on Tuesday a House Concurrent Resolution calling for the recognition of individuals from the territories when American students study the history of the United States.

Congresswoman Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands sponsored the resolution that was introduced early last year. This year, 46 U.S. House members joined as co-sponsors of the measure. The co-sponsors include U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the Insular Areas.

The resolution expresses "the sense of Congress that children in the United States should understand and appreciate the contributions of individuals from the territories of the United States and the contributions of such individuals in United States history."

Individuals from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands "have contributed to many aspects of the history and culture of the United States, including its politics, athletics, and music," the resolution states.

However, many students in the U.S. do not know the location or the significance of these U.S. territories, according to the resolution. It states that the diversity of the citizens of the U.S. strengthens the nation and individuals from the territories of the U.S. contribute to that diversity.

Congresswoman M. Bordallo of Guam told her colleagues before the vote in the House on Tuesday that teaching United States history is fundamental to the American classroom.

"Yet, the teaching of history can be elevated today with greater incorporation of facts related to the territories and our fellow Americans who call the territories home," according to congressional records of her statement.

She also pointed out that in today's American classrooms students learn about various capitals of U.S. states but "San Juan (Puerto Rico), Pago Pago (American Samoa), and Hagatna (Guam), for example, ... are unfamiliar to their ear and rarely can be pinpointed on the map. Our territorial flags, seals, trees, flowers, birds, et cetera, they are all too frequently overlooked or a mystery, our history under appreciated."

She also reminded her colleagues that military men and women from the territories "stood shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and sisters in harm's way" in the latest conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as past wars and they have "paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The resolution is now pending with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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