Tokyo school honors American heroes at Punchbowl
By Cpl. Cristina Noelia Gil
| | August 03, 2009
More than 100 staff and students from the Hakubi Kiyoto Kimono Schools held a wreath laying ceremony in honor of American service members laid to rest at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Aug. 3.
This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo-based school’s pilgrimage to the site which ancient Hawaiians called a hill of sacrifice for the lives that were given for the gods many years ago.
“For 40 years we’ve honored these sacred grounds out of respect and gratitude for those who have gone to war for us,” said the Consul-General of Japan, Toshio Kunikata.
Dressed in colorful kimonos, traditional Japanese robes that have become a symbol of peace, students from Hakubi Kiyoto Kimono Schools and members of Hawaii’s Japanese community observed the solemn event.
“For four decades the Japanese have worn the kimono to honor U.S. war dead here. They are a large part of Japanese culture and represent sincere appreciation for the sacrifices of those who lie here,” said Mr. Noel Ono, speaking on behalf of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman.
The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band provided musical support and community leaders delivered speeches honoring thousands of American heroes and the strong relationship that exists between Japan and the U.S.
“This ceremony signals the bridge of international support between the U.S. and our allies, Japan, as we take on the challenges of the 21st century,” said the Punchbowl director, Retired Marine Col. Gene Castagnetti. “Your attendance honors all service members who gave up their tomorrows so we can have our todays.”