Tokashiki Village remembers history with memorial service for mass suicide victims

Tokashiki Village remembers history with memorial service for mass suicide victims

On March 28, a bereaved woman points to the name of a lost family member inscribed into the stone slab at Shiratama no To, Tokashiki Village. (Photograph courtesy of Yo Kakazu)

March 29, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 28 at Shiratama no To, Tokashiki Village hosted a memorial service for those who died in the “group self-determination” (compulsory mass suicide) 72 years prior on March 28, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa. Bereaved family members and concerned persons numbering about 60 attended. Showing a grave countenance, the attendees joined hands in prayer.

Tokashiki Village’s mayor Yoshikatsu Matsumoto gave an address, saying, “There is nothing more sorrowful than this tragic way in which many precious lives were lost.” He reminded the village people to tell their descendants of history, so it will live on in memory.

Pupils of Tokashiki Elementary and Junior High Schools dedicated an art piece of folded paper cranes forming the character for heart (kokoro) for the service. The pupils said they created the piece with an intention of bringing people around the world a sense of gentle serenity.

Chairman of the Tokashiki Village Assembly Yasuhiro Tamaki told those in attendance to never forget that the peace and prosperity enjoyed today has been built atop the honored sacrifices of those who came before. He instructed, “Hand [this history] down into the future, so the truth of the preciousness of [the victims’] lives never fades.”

One man in his 80s tearfully said that he lost his father and three brothers in the mass suicide, and that his heart aches to this day.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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