Son of US veteran visits Okinawa, remembering how his father saved locals
May 6, 2015 Yuri Shimizu of Ryukyu Shimpo
On April 24, third-generation Okinawan American, Alvin Higa, who lives in California and is the first son of Taro Higa, visited Shimabukuro, Kitanakagusuku Village. Taro, who spoke Japanese and lived in Kitanakagusuku Village until he was nine years old, later served as an interpreter for the U.S. army during the Battle of Okinawa. About 120 people of the Village gathered for Alvin’s visit. Shimabukuro community presented a letter marking their appreciation of Taro Higa, saying, “During the war, Taro’s call for surrender in Uchinaguchi saved many lives.”
One of the villagers said to Alvin, “I am here thanks to your father.” Alvin smiled and said that he was happy that people remembered his father. Alvin shook hands with residents and enjoyed dancing kachashi with them. However, he said that he felt sad to learn that villagers had lived such a harsh life in the post war period.
When Taro returned to Hawaii after the war he told people there about the conditions Okinawans were living in and how they didn’t even have pigs. As a result Taro persuaded Hawaiians to donate goats, pigs, and medical goods to Okinawa.
According to Alvin, Taro did not talk much about what he had done but he took many pictures and left detailed documents. These documents have been donated to the Prefectural Archive.
Alvin played the role of his father in a musical drama about Taro. Like Taro, Alvin has a long association with former Governor Masahide Ota. Alvin said that when Ota saw him, he said it was like looking at his father.
Alvin still remembers how his father taught him not to be arrogant. Alvin said that he would like to make more friends in Okinawa and keep up the connections that his father made.
Alvin visited Ginoza Village to trace his father’s movements during the Battle of Okinawa. Before his visit Alvin dreamt about his father. In the dream his father regretted that not many Okinawans can speak Uchinaguchi now, even though Uchinaguchi helped Okinawa in the past. Alvin’s father hoped that Uchinaguchi would be preserved. Alvin said that he would like to study Uchinaguchi and also the languages of other islands in Okinawa.
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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