By Pacific Island Times News Staff
President Joe Biden has signed HR 3539 into law officially naming and designating the Hagåtña Post Office as the Atanasio Taitano Perez Post Office.
"We are so proud to honor the work, legacy, memory, and family of Atanasio Taitano Perez with this official naming and designation of the Hågatña Post Office, which we find particularly meaningful as a reflection of the character of our community to value the contributions of those who have worked hard for the betterment of our island and the well being of our people," said Congressman Michael San Nicolas, Guam's delegate to Congress.
Biden signed HR 3539 bill on Oct. 11, along with several other bills renaming post offices in other U.S. communities.
The following are excerpts from a Guampedia entry written by Bernard Punzalan.
Atanasio Taitano Perez (1874–1950), commonly known as Don Perez, was the only child of Francisco Taitano Perez and Maria Encarnacion Perez. He was born in Hong Kong on June 5, 1874. While being raised and living in Hong Kong he received his early education and subsequently attended St. Joseph’s College. By the late 1800’s, his father decided that it was time for his family to return home to Guam.
On Jan. 11, 1894, he married Carmen Arriola Duenas, daughter of Agustin Evaristo Duenas and Domitila Rivera Arriola. Together, they had 13 children; however, only six of their daughters survived beyond childhood.
Perez was a highly successful public servant for Guam since Aug. 1, 1899, retiring on June 1, 1935. He held key government positions over many U.S. Naval government administrations.
He was the first postmaster of Guam. He assumed the position on July 29, 1901 when the first post office of Guam was directed to be established
He was appointed associate justice in the Guam Court of Appeals on July 1916; as a member of the Guam Higher Court of Equity on Sept. 20, 1916; as an associate justice in Guam Higher Court of Equity on Sept. 10, 1917.
In addition to government service, Perez was also personally involved in the movement petitioning Congress to establish a permanent civilian government and U.S. citizenship for the people of Guam.
He was one of the 32 signatory officials of Guam that petitioned Congress in 1901.
In 1925, when some members of the U.S, House of Representatives visited Guam, they attended a Guam Congress session held in Dorn Hall on July 1. Following Naval Governor Henry Price’s welcoming remarks and comments, Perez was the first to present and address on behalf of the CHamoru people:
“The CHamorus are neither citizens nor aliens – they are truly without a country. When the United States acquired sovereignty over the Virgin Islands, citizenship was immediately conferred on the inhabitants, but Guam, for 26 years an American possession, has not yet been granted that privilege," he said.
While Congress remained unresponsive to Guam’s pleas for citizenship and civilian governance, during World War II, and just two weeks before the U.S. stormed ashore to repossess Guam, Perez lost his left eye from flying shell fragments while he was in a bomb shelter on July 7, 1944 in Hagåtña.
In addition to that injury, he sustained other wounds and powder burns about his legs and face. As if that was not enough, the upper lobe of one of his ears was pierced by a bullet.