Monthly Archives: April 2015

Remarks of LtGen Lawrence Snowden, USMC(Ret) 4th Marine Division-Iwo Jima-1945 Chairman Emeritus-Iwo Jima Association of America 70th Annual “Reunion of Honor” on Iwo Jima 21 March 2015

When I first stood on this island in February 1945, our two nations were at war with each other and the environment was characterized by devastation, destruction and death and three colors to be seen—black, gray, and red. All greenery had been blown away by the various weapons of war. The red color came from the blood of American and Japanese military men who had been wounded or killed in the vicious fighting.

Today as I stand here in March, 2015, the island is green, the atmosphere of hatred has changed to friendship, war has been displaced by understanding and friendship and our two Nations are bound together in a bi-lateral relationship that is the strongest in the world today. Madam Kuribayashi was precisely right when she proclaimed in 1995 that we enemies had become friend. Her words have set the tone for each of our reunions since that time.

Time is said to be the great healer and time has allowed physical wounds to heal but healing has left deep scars for many of the survivors and left deep emotional scars on the families of those who died here. Some scars are physical, some are mental but all are reminders that the vicious warfare that took place on this island claimed the lives of thousands on both sides and it is those men we honor today and will honor forever.

On both sides we lost young men who had the potential to do so much for their countries in a peaceful world. Their families back home suffered grief that is an inevitable part of warfare. Our prayers are that the souls of those who died here and resting in peace and their families are remembering the good times they shared.

 As we stand together to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our Joint Reunion of Honor we also stand together in opposition to international terrorism which threatens our citizens round the world and seeks to do major damage in our homelands. The solution to the international terrorism problem will not be solved by military action alone but require our joint economic and international political programs to insure the security of our two Nations.

Our Annual Joint Reunion of Honor Program here on island has been a consistent success over twenty years because of many on both sides who wanted to be sure that we would continue to honor those who gave their lives here. I wish to thank Ambassador Sasae and his Embassy Staff for their encouragement and support, the Self Defense Force or their participation, the Foreign Ministry for so much cooperation, and senior officials of the Japanese Government along with the Diet Members who have attended this event. All of this support demonstrates the depth of our friendship and I thank you.

It is my hope that these Joint Reunions of Honor will continue long into the future, not just because we want to continue to honor those who died here but because these reunions have become a visible sign to the rest of world that we are friends in every sense of the word and that we stand united against those who would jeopardize our freedom and our relationships.

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Remarks by Mr. Yoshitaka Shindo Former Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, Member, House of Representatives Representative of Bereaved Families March 21, 2015

For bereaved families and fellow soldiers of those who dedicated their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima, it is our pleasure to be able to welcome the members of the Iwo Jima Association of America, who came all the way from the United States. I am proud of and deeply moved by the fact that Iwo Jima is the only place in the world where former adversaries can come together to co-host a memorial service.

Unfortunately, we are not able to see our friend, former Chairman of Iwo Jima Association of America, MajGen Fred E. Haynes. I would like to commend his great achievement for the Battle of Iwo Jima Commemoration Ceremony in Japan. May his soul rest in peace.

The fierce battle on this island, which took place 70 years ago, resulted in a great number of deaths and casualties and made Iwo Jima an island remembered in history. Japanese soldiers suffered the heat of underground bunker, where the temperature rose to over 122 degrees F, and fought desperately without food or drinking water. Despite the overwhelming military disadvantage, these people who had been driven into a corner did not seek to escape or give in, but performed their duty until the end. For what purpose and how were they able to persevere under those circumstances? I think that the soldiers who fought in this infernal hell stood up with this hardship for the sake of their parents and loved ones at home and in order to delay the danger to them for as long as possible.

The heroic battle in Iwo Jima became the subject of two motion pictures filmed from the perspective of both the Japanese and Americans. These movies, directed by Mr. Clint Eastwood, won Academy Awards and have become a topic of conversation all over the world. The feelings of Japanese and American people, which were portrayed clearly by the two movies, were the same. Why did these troops, who shard the same feelings, had to fight each other? Mr. Eastwood said “War takes away the future from the young. However, we must respect and never forget the people who had to sacrifice themselves for their families and important matters. I want to convey this to the people in the world.”

We, the Bereaved families, would like to express our sincere sorrow for the loss of those who fought for their country and family, and we must pass down their history to the future generations so that their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Less than half of the remains of the Japanese troops were retrieved, with more than 12000 of them still left on this island, which seems to be a place where the time has stopped it move.
We will continue our activities until all the remains are retuned home. I keep in my mind that the peace and prosperity we enjoy now were built upon the many noble sacrifices of the war dead, and I would also like to renew my resolve to make further efforts for the peace and stability of the world through cooperation between Japan and the United States who now form film alliance.

I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing on behalf of the bereaved families our sincere appreciation to the personnel Japan Self Defense Force, especially the ones on this island Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and other government authorities, and officials of the U.S. Military or their significant assistance for today’s joint ceremony.

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