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Peace Prayer Memorial Park (Heiwa Kinen Kouen)

By: Berlynda Faye Phillips

Date Posted: 2000-10-06

There’s no doubt that Okinawa is considered one of the most beautiful islands of the Asian Pacific. With all of it’s clear emerald and blue beaches, and lush rugged hills, it is easy for those of us who enjoy the benefits of this small but exotic island, to be unaware of the many sacrifices that were made in honor of Okinawa. Peace Prayer Memorial Park is a beautiful memorial honoring those who lost or gave their lives in what was known as the Battle of Okinawa. In late March 1945, the most fierce battle took place between Japanese and American military forces. Lasting ninety days, it was responsible not only for the destruction of mountains and a great deal of cultural legacy, but also claimed the many lives of more than 200,000 people. The Battle of Okinawa was the only battle fought on Japanese soil, using ground troops. A great number of Okinawan civilians were fully assembled. Unfortunately it was the civilians who paid significantly with more than 100,000 civilian lives lost, which far exceeded those of the militaries. At the park, there is a museum with exhibits for children as well as adults.

In the children’s exhibit room, there are exhibits that the children can interact with. There are puzzles and games that they can challenge their knowledge with as welll as learn about different people from all over the world. The first of the children’s exhibits features 18 children from different countries who speak through video using their native language. Another section focuses on issues such as war, the natural environment and problems children face in today’s world. In the quiz corner, simply by touching a computer screen, you can test your skills on how well you know Okinawa. With topics from history and culture to environment and the battle.

Other exhibits feature a cave where residents took refuge during the battle. There is also the Information Library. It provides a large amount of information related to peace. Visitors may view videotapes of surviors of the Battle of Okinawa and view information on other peace related issues as well.

A beautiful memorial made of marble that zigzags along the grounds, displays the names of Okinawans and Americans that made the utlitmate sacrifice in the final and the most deadly battle between Japanese and American forces. While strolling along this great wall of soldiers, one can get a sense of peace and all that was sacrificed for Okinawa. There are also stairs of stones to climb the higher grounds of the park, but once at the top, the scenery is one that would leave even the most professional photographers speechless. So bring plenty of film for those spectacular photo opportunities.

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