Ambassador Kennedy in Okinawa – Remarks at Irei no Hi Ceremony for USO

ambassador and soldier
Ambassador Kennedy places a commemorative wreath in the USO ceremony remembering victims of the Battle of Okinawa.

AMBASSADOR KENNEDY: Lieutenant General Wissler, Chaplain Creditor, Robin Miller and the USO, Justin Wentworth, honored veterans, distinguished guests – thank you.

On behalf of President Obama, my State Department colleagues, and all Americans, I am honored to say a few words at this solemn occasion. Today, we remember the sacrifices of those brave Americans who gave their lives here 69 years ago so that we, their children and grandchildren, could live in a free and peaceful world.

And nearby, we also honor the memory of the 240,000 people who lost their lives in this terrible battle which devastated this beautiful island and its communities.

The strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance today is a tribute to all of them. Built on the devastation of war by countless acts of courage, reconciliation, perseverance, and friendship, our two countries work together to ensure peace and prosperity around the world. Visiting this place, on this day, we renew our commitment to that cause.

ambassador and spouse
Ambassador Kennedy and her husband place flowers at a shrine during the official Okinawa Prefecture ceremony for “Irei no Hi.” (Okinawa Prefecture Photo)

I would like to close with a few lines from Stephen Spender’s poem, “The Truly Great” in memory of those we honor today :

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted in the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky
The names of those , who, in their life fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.