By Rear Adm. John Fuller
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii
and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific
The United States and Japan ended World War II in the Pacific 70 years ago this summer. On August 14 and 15, the U.S. Navy in Hawaii will host sister cities Honolulu and Nagaoka, Japan to commemorate that anniversary.
This month’s commemoration, “70 Years of Peace,” has three goals: to honor the sacrifices of seven decades ago, celebrate the enduring peace between the United States and Japan today, and keep the memories alive for generations to come: past, present, future.
Nagaoka Mayor Tamio Mori, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, will lead solemn remembrance events on Aug. 14. We will recognize those who fought and died during the War in the Pacific – beginning in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and then across the ocean, from island to island, and ending in the summer of 1945 in Japan.
Pearl Harbor suffered greatly on Dec. 7, 1941. Nagaoka suffered greatly in the waning days of the war when U.S. bombers destroyed 80 percent of the city. Nagaoka was the home of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet, who, historians tell us, reluctantly planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After conducting private solemn ceremonies on Aug. 14, we will shift the focus to a public event on Aug. 15 to celebrate our mutual respect and friendship.
Nagaoka, now famous for its spectacular fireworks displays, will light up the sky over Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The base will open part of historic Ford Island to the public. Singers, dancers and taiko drummers will perform, but the highlight will be the fireworks show.
Today, the citizens of Japan and the United States work together to prevent war by preserving peace – building cooperation, strengthening partnerships and training together as allies.
And, that’s what our Navy does when we operate forward. We have great friends in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forceand we work hard to continually improve that relationship.
Here in Hawaii, people from Nagaoka and Honolulu are promoting cultural and educational exchanges, in which our Navy is happy to participate – in association with the Japan America Society of Hawaii. Young people from both countries are conducting outreach events at local schools, with the University of Hawaii, and together with the National Park Service at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
We learn by studying the lessons from history. Our World War II veterans tell us their greatest wish is that we never forget the sacrifices they made seven decades ago and that future generations will continue to value and defend cooperation, stability, freedom – and peace.