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U.S. and Japan
Ambassador Emanuel Speaks at the 78th Reunion of Honor Ceremony on Iwo To
March 25, 2023

Friends of the United States and Japan, distinguished guests, veterans and loved ones of veterans: Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder at a sacred site.

We gather with great reverence and grave remembrance of the history of these hallowed grounds.

The Battle of Iwo Jima on Iwo-to was one of the deadliest fought during World War II.

The purpose of our presence at this solemn ceremony is to ensure that the legacy of lives lost – what President Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” – is never lost on the living. To ensure the souls of the sacrificed are eternally honored. To reaffirm and renew a commitment to peace, prosperity, and possibility between our two peoples.

The tens of thousands on each side – American and Japanese – who suffered and sacrificed for their homelands … inch by inch and hill by hill … would have likely found it impossible to imagine 78 years ago what the U.S.-Japan relationship would become today: the envy of the world.

The idea that American and Japanese forces would one day train together, serve together, and sacrifice together would have once been prohibitive. We chose to make it possible. In seven short decades, our nations have achieved far more for our peoples united than we could ever claim through war divided.

Today, we still face a critical juncture. But our nations can confront common challenges united in the belief of our shared interests, our shared values, and our shared goals. Our modus operandi is cooperation and collaboration.

By contrast, strongmen are using a modus operandi of confrontation and conflict. Their baseless and brutal wars… Their aggressive actions threaten democracy and freedom.

The United States and Japan will never shy away from any adversity or any adversary that undermines our values. This work – our work – will determine the destiny of the democratic example.

Throughout history, those who dare and dream to seek a newer world are met with trials and tribulations. Fellow foes test us today and will test us tomorrow. Only through adversity do we discover our limitless capacity of courage and conviction. Our unity will prevail in the Indo-Pacific – and beyond.

This is how we memorialize the lives lost during the battle of Iwo Jima on Iwo-to.

In my Jewish faith, when someone dies, we say, “May their memory be a blessing.”

It’s often difficult to find blessings on battlefields. But the power and presence of Americans and Japanese at this sacred site today is a blessing.

We come together to both remember the cruelty of war … and to realize the courage to make peace. The most powerful reflection of reconciliation is the friendship and the future that America and Japan forge together. May God ensure that the fallen are not forgotten. That the heroes are rightfully honored.

That we together lift the mantle of leadership higher.