Jingle Bell Challenge
CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan -- On April 1, 1945, thousands of U.S. troops landed on the beaches of Okinawa, Japan in the battle known as the “Typhoon of Steel.” The fierce combat that ensued between American and Japanese forces would last 82 days and the human toll of the battle would go on to be one of the greatest in the Pacific theater of World War II.
Years later, relics from the battle remain in museums and exhibits across Okinawa. In a small series of rooms on the second floor of the Headquarters and Service building at Camp Kinser, an exhibit organized by volunteers displays roughly 1,000 artifacts from World War II, mostly from the Battle for Okinawa.
Twenty-four local museum curators and employees visited the exhibit Dec. 18 after expressing an interest in the display.
“In the past, the U.S. Consulate was more involved with local museums,” said Dolores Prin, public affairs officer with the U.S. Consulate General Naha. “We wanted to rekindle the cooperation between our public affairs and these historical and cultural institutions, so we contacted their union and asked what (the U.S. Consulate) could do to help their mission.”
After a survey was sent out, there was an overwhelming number of responses requesting access to the Camp Kinser Battle of Okinawa Historical Display, according to Prin.
“I think it was a special opportunity, not just to show the museums (here) how the consulate is committed to working with them, but also to demonstrate that the bases aren’t as inaccessible as they thought,” Prin said.
The exhibit does not follow a single-sided narrative and instead tells the human stories of the men who fought and the Okinawan residents caught between the warring nations, according to Chris Majewski, the volunteer director for the historical display.
“This isn’t about what we did (as Americans) or what we can do. This isn’t about waving a flag for any country,” Majewski said. “It’s about teaching the Battle of Okinawa.”
Each tour’s focus depends on who is taking it, according to Majewski.
“If it’s a Marine infantry unit, we’ll talk about the tactics involved in the battle and how they relate to today,” Majewski said as an example.
Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the battle and the end of World War II.
“It’s an excellent time to reflect on how far we have come and how much has changed,” said Prin.” (The display) has grown into an amazing historical snapshot of the period, with informative and poignant context about the battle and those who fought it.”
Whether a service member or a local resident visits the exhibit, it’s important to learn the immensity of the fight and its significance in history, according to Majewski.
“It’s a trail to see how history ties us to who we are today,” he said.