The Importance of Peace (The Okinawa Festival in Hawaii)

Original article from the Ryukyu Shimpo (September 2007): http://ryukyushimpo.jp/variety/storyid-27219-storytopic-18.html

Okinawa (Hawaii) [The Importance of Peace] The Okinawa Festival in Hawaii

At the 25th Hawaii Okinawan Festival (sponsored by the Hawaii United Okinawa Association) held over three days from August 30 at the Kapiolani Park in Honolulu, Hawaii, there was an exhibit, The History of the Battle of Okinawa In a small corner of the grounds where the ancient art forms of Okinawa were brightly displayed, there was a large number of visitors stopping by at a small booth to ponder through photographs the question, "What is peace?"

The person who planned the display is Honolulu resident Shari Tamashiro (34). "Tasting the bitterness of war will inform us of the value of peace. I wanted people to know the history of Okinawa so they may know what true peace is like, and so I decided to put together this display," she said.
There are about 40 photographs of scenes of totally scorched fields taken by the American Army immediately after the war immediately after the war showing the scorched earth. Also displayed are figures, messages, and materials on the suicide maidens and the Nisei interpreters that clearly put in relief the past and present of Okinawa .

At the site many veterans who were present at the Battle of Okinawa, and people connected with the prefecture came eagerly to see the display. There were a few who stood motionless before the photos with their arms akimbo. There was an American youth who quietly stood with tears welling up in his eyes.

Eric Johnson from Georgia who had recently returned from Iraq had this to say. "I went to the warfront to protect my country, but now I am in much confusion. My postwar is just beginning. I saw myself juxtaposed in the photographs displayed and I found it difficult to look at them," he said.

Ananda Siegal (39) from California said, "After looking at the photos, I felt that my grandfather could not talk about Okinawa because he still has within himself some pain.

Mark Kamil (19) from New York said, "I believe Okinawa's traditional art flourished in order to transcend the sadness of the war."

Ms. Tamashiro, who received many questions from the visitors, said, "Because the occasion was a festival, I considered withdrawing this display at one time, but I didn't want to miss this opportunity since there would be a lot of people. Offering the fact that there was a battle on the small island of Okinawa, I just wanted the people who came to see to consider individually what war was and what peace was."