Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peace Park

This weekend we explored the southern part of Okinawa and went to The Peace Memorial Park where the final battle on Okinawa took place during WWII. The park is located on the beautiful Pacific Ocean and provides ample views of the rocky coastline. With the beautiful views, waves gently breaking on the rocks, it was hard to think of the area as the Suicide Cliffs. Thousands of Okinawans jumped to their deaths. The Japanese soldiers jumped desiring an honorable death, and civilians were told that the Americans would torture and rape them so women jumped from the cliffs clutching their babies and teachers lead their classes of children to the ledge. So heartbreaking. So tragic. The park is dedicated to promoting world peace so these horrible events never happen again.

The Park brochure explains that "a significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. At more that 100,000, civilian losses far outnumbered the military death toll. Some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while others fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops. Under the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the absurdity of war and the atrocities it inevitably brings about."

The Cornerstone of Peace monument displays the names of over 240,000 who died in the battle regardless of nationality or affiliation. The Flame of Peace is in the monuments center and the flame is composed of 3 flames: one taken from the first landing place of US forces in Okinawa, one from Nagasaki and the other from Hiroshima.

There are 32 memorial monuments along the Memorial Path, they were all uniquely different.

Also along the path is the dugout where the Lt. General Ushijima, the Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army committed suicide rather than surrender to the US troops. We took the stairs down to a cave in the cliffs where the Japanese Headquarters were hidden during WWII.

The Peace Memorial Museum remembers and educates future generations on the reality of the Battle of Okinawa and passes on the lessons that were learned through exhibits, actual photographs and testimonies.

The Hall of World Peace is a beautiful symbol on the Hill of Mabuni and stands for the value of peace. The Hall's roof represents the 7 seas and the shape of hands joined in prayer. The Hall represents peace regardless of race, nationality, ideology and/or religion. Inside is the Okinawa Peace Prayer Statue and is a symbol of the Okinawans desire for peace and is also where the memorial service for the dead takes place.

The Bell of Peace is rung on special memorial occasions and the inscription on the bell translates to "Calm the souls of the war dead. Swear the permanent peace of the world. From the Hill of Mabuni in all directions, sounds everlastingly the Bell of Peace, in solemn prayers of all people."
This park not only has a beautiful message, the whole park was gorgeous!

I think the Okinawan people have the right idea! Who doesn't wish for lasting peace in the world. I'm so glad that this park is here to help us all remember those lost in the battle and to remind us of the value of peace.

1 comment:

Mary said...

"The absurdity of war and the atrocities it inevitably brings about."

Well, that really just says it all, doesn't it?