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City to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa

HONOLULU -- Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa. In recognition, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has requested that Honolulu Hale be illuminated purple, a popular color often representing Okinawa, on the evening of Tuesday, June 23.

"We remember the sacrifices of the American soldiers, Japanese forces, and Okinawan civilians who suffered so greatly," said Mayor Caldwell. "Now we are at peace and owe this legacy to those who suffered so greatly to attain it. We also pause to remember the great outpouring of good will from the Okinawan immigrants to Hawai‘i who extended their hand in friendship to help the people of Okinawa in the aftermath of this tragic war. They conducted fundraising efforts and sent pigs, goats, medical supplies, and clothing to Okinawa to assist in the recovery. We are proud of this unique Uchinanchu heritage that has become an integral part of the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural fabric of O‘ahu, and the rest of the state."

Every year on June 23, Okinawa commemorates the end of the Battle of Okinawa also known as Irei no Hi. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific during WWII where approximately 240,000 people -- both civilians and military -- lost their lives and Okinawa lost a third of its civilian population. The Battle of Okinawa left an indelible mark on the land and the survivors, which is why Okinawa is committed to spreading the message of peace -- understanding firsthand the cost of war.

"We are proud that Okinawa and Hawai‘i are sister states," said Lynn Miyahira, president of the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association (HUOA). "Honolulu and Naha have been sister cities since 1960; this year marks the 60th anniversary of this relationship. Cultural, educational, and business ties have emerged and have been strengthened over the years and it's my hope that we can soon return to this vibrant activity."

The Okinawa Peace Memorial Park is one of the few memorials around the world that lists all the names of lives lost during the battle -- both Okinawan civilians and those who fought on either the American and Japanese sides of the war. It reminds us that no matter what side you are on, the cost of war is rarely, if ever, worth the sacrifice. Okinawans have a saying, nūchi du takara, which means "life is a treasure" and reminds us that all lives are precious.

"On occasion of this milestone date and in recognition of the deep friendship we enjoy with the people of Okinawa, I join the Uchinanchu community and all the people of Hawai‘i in sending our wishes and prayers for continued peace to Okinawa's Governor Denny Tamaki, Naha Mayor Mikiko Shiroma and all the people of Okinawa," added Mayor Caldwell.

"Last night, the Hawaii United Okinawa Association commemorated Irei no Hi with a live virtual event that can be viewed on the HUOA YouTube channel or HUOA Facebook page," said Jon Itomura, HUOA executive director. "Join HUOA's worldwide audience through our virtual platforms to view the two-hour special to hear testimonies from survivors, share music about wartime experiences, and commemorate and learn about this important time in history with us."

VIDEO - Reflections: Irei no Hi in Hawaii:

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