OAA Event Commemorates Battle of Okinawa

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Speakers to offer first-hand accounts of the WWII battle.

A painting of Okinawan high school students by Ken Kaizu is featured in the short film “Himeyuri.”

GARDENA — On Saturday, June 17, the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) in Gardena is hosting special event focusing on the Battle of Okinawa.

Irei no Hi is a public holiday observed in Okinawa on June 23 and commemorates the end of the devastating “Typhoon of Steel” in 1945. Every year, Okinawans remember and honor the nearly 150,000 Okinawan civilians who died (approximately one-third of the prefecture’s pre-war population).

The event will feature special guest speakers including Robert Akers Martin, who, as a 19-year-old soldier in the U.S. 6th Marine Division, experienced the battle first-hand. Encouraged by his family to share his story, he recently self-published a daily journal that he kept during the 100 days he spent in Okinawa.

There will also be a screening of an illustrated documentary called “Himeyuri.” The 30-minute film (in Japanese with English subtitles) is based on the harrowing testimonies of Okinawan women who, as high school students during the war, were forced to become nurses for the Japanese Imperial Army. A DVD and English guidebook were donated to the OAA by the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Itoman City, Okinawa.

The program will begin at 2 p.m. at the OAA Center, 16500 S. Western Ave., Gardena, on the corner of Western and 166th Street. Admission is free for current OAA members and $5 for the public. Due to limited seating and parking, RSVP is required by Thursday, June 15. RSVP at [email protected] or (310) 532-1929.

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