|Col. James C. Stewart
IWAKUNI, Japan - War is a horrendous business; families torn apart, relationships put asunder and service members killed or taken captive. Dignitaries attended a memorial relocation and dedication ceremony held April 15, 2013, to pay homage and honor to enemy prisoners who were captives at Hiroshima Prisoner of War Sub-Camp No. 4 [Hiroshima 4-B MUKAIJIMA (Mukaishima)] during World War II.
“Any site of rest and memory to those service members who have gone before us and who have made the ultimate sacrifice warrants our continued visitation and remembrance,” said Col. James C. Stewart, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni commanding officer.
“Today’s ceremony signifies the collective remembrance and dedication of all nations to those military service memebers who have endured the privation of detention during conflict.” The part of Onomichi where the memorial stands was once known as Mukaishima, and it is here where more than 200 Allied service members toiled in shipyards [Owned by Hitachi Zosen], carrying materials until the war’s end in 1945.
Once unveiled, a floral tribute commenced with bouquets laid at the base of the memorial, followed by guest remarks and a song by students from the Mukaishima Chuo Elementary School.
The theme of the ceremony focused on passing an understanding of the sacrifices made by the departed to future generations. “I greatly hope from this occasion today this memorial plate will be a symbol of peace and friendship and extend friendship amongst our people,” said Yuko Hiratani, Onomichi City mayor. “I sincerely hope our wish for eternal peace is passed down to future generations.”
“It is important for us to continue to remember the men and women from all nations who fought in the great conflict,” said Stewart. “This memorial will stand as a reminder of their tremendous sacrifice and our desire for world peace. Today, Japan and the United States and the United Kingdom form the strongest and most important security alliance in the world.”
After nearly 70 years, representatives from the three nations continued to reflect and sustain the hope for abstinence from war, the endurance of their alliance, and the wish to never need similar monuments in the future.