Emperor, Empress of Japan visit National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
By Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis
| | July 15, 2009
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific July 15 to pay tribute to fallen service members and place a wreath in memory of those killed during World War II.
The imperial couple visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on their first full day in Oahu after arriving July 14.
Governor Linda Lingle and Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, greeted the couple as a 21-gun salute announced their arrival.
The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, band played as the couple arrived in the motorcade and made their way to the memorial. The couple, along with attendees, paused for a moment of silence after they laid the ceremonial wreath.
Marines participating in the ceremony said they felt privileged to take part in the significant event.
“It was an honor to represent the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Robert Ian Manion, the MarForPac color sergeant.
“I had gone to Iwo Jima awhile back,” he said. “I had time to reflect and at one point there were no two greater enemies – and now the biggest thing (between us) is peace.”
The memorial, amplified by heavy rain, ended the imperial couple’s first Punchbowl visit in more than a decade on their second of three day visit to Oahu.
“I think it showed a lot of compassion,” said Sgt. Maj. James Roberts, sergeant major, Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac. “It was an honor for the Marines and everyone there to participate in that remembrance. It showed we came a long way.”