During World War II, Japan’s Ryukyu Islands were the front line for a series of battles which culminated in the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific theater. The Battle of Okinawa lasted 82 days, from April 1 to June 22, 1945.
Seventy-two years later, service members, veterans and government officials from Okinawa, mainland Japan and the United States gathered today at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa, Japan for the 2017 Okinawa Memorial Day service.
The Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg, was the last major battle of World War II. The fight resulted in more than 240,000 deaths of Japanese and U.S. service members, as well as Okinawan civilians.
Attendees at the service joined together around the Cornerstone of Peace and placed wreaths against the walls in remembrance of those who gave their lives to serve their country.
“Words cannot repay the debt we owe to the names inscribed here,” said U.S. Consul General Joel Ehrendreich. “By dedicating ourselves to their purpose and by remembering their contributions, we can do them justice. May their courage, duty and sacrifice continue to inspire us today and in the future.”
In September 1945 a formal document was signed signifying the ending of the battle. Since then, the U.S. and Japanese forces allied together forging a diplomatic relationship that remains a cornerstone of security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“This is an important day … this is an important event, but it cannot be just one day a year we look at this,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commander of Marine Forces Japan and Okinawa area coordinator. “We have an obligation to honor their memory and to live in a way that reflects on their sacrifice, so that this great alliance between our two nations will endure and continue to grow stronger.”