Saturday, December 10, 2011

Peace Park - Second Visit

A view of the Pacific from Peace Park
Kelly and Valerie with bouquets to decorate memorials
by Pa Rock
A memorial at Peace Park
Cultural Explorer

Two weeks ago today I went to Peace Park on the southern tip of Okinawa with two good friends.  We did a much more thorough exploration of the immense park this time than I was able to accomplish last year when I first visited the site.

Well, I actually visited Peace Park first nearly forty years ago.  At that time, it was much smaller, just a couple of acres of memorials on the cliffs jutting out over the Pacific Ocean.  We referred to the place as "Suicide Cliffs" back at that time.  It is the spot where many Japanese servicemen marched off of the cliffs to certain death on the rocks below rather than risk capture by the American forces.

Today Peace Park is much larger - probably more than a hundred acres.  There are memorials everywhere, as well as a very large learning center that has displays, films, and records from the war.  This park is dedicated to preserving the history of Okinawa during World War II as well as reminding people that "peace" is the better option.  And yes, war and peace are ultimately options.

Yet another memorial
One of the most interesting memorials in the park is a wide expanse of granite walls that have the names of all of the servicemen, Japanese and Americans, who died fighting on Okinawa.  We met a very nice couple from Indiana who were walking along the American walls looking for Ernie Pyle's name.  (Pyle was a nationally known newspaper correspondent from Indiana who was killed by a sniper during the battle for Okinawa.)  They ultimately found two Pyle's with different first names.

Here are just a very few photos from this beautiful park.
Chains of origami paper cranes decorated some of
the memorials
Bill and Jen McDonald - American school teachers
serving in Japan - along with Valerie and Kelly.
A panel in the American memorial wall
A view of the top of the learning center as seen from
an observation post
A diorama inside the learning center
Another memorial.  The gardens were beautiful!

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