Servicemembers spruce up peace park ahead of remembrance for WWII’s Battle of Okinawa
ITOMAN, Okinawa — More than 1,000 servicemembers from the U.S. and Japan gathered on Saturday to tidy up Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, a week ahead of the annual Irei no Hi ceremony.
The ceremony, which takes place at the park every year on June 23, is expected to draw thousands of residents, visitors and dignitaries to mark the day the Battle of Okinawa ended. The site is dedicated to the 250,000 civilian and military lives lost during the 82-day-long battle in World War II.
The U.S. Navy and Army joined Japan’s three Self-Defense Forces — air, ground and maritime — active duty and retired, along with their families, to sweep walkways, rake grass and leaves and share garbage bags for rubbish picked up on the grounds.
“The cleanup has been going on for 22 years,” Chief Petty Officer Takayuki Ota, command master chief of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Fleet Air Wing 5, told Stars and Stripes through a translator Saturday. “Every year I come here to clean to show respect to the lives lost; it’s something I feel I should do to commemorate them.”
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