Participants in the Memorial Day ceremony pose in front of the Ireito at Woodlawn Cemetery. (GEORGE TOSHIO JOHNSTON/Rafu Shimpo)
SANTA MONICA — The 58th Bay Cities Japanese Community Joint Memorial Day Service was held on May 29 in front of the Ireito (memorial tower) at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica to honor the area’s Issei pioneers and Nisei soldiers.
Beverly Yahata of West L.A. Buddhist Women’s Association gave opening remarks, Boy Scout Troop 764 conducted the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance, Rev. Kory Quon of Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple chanted a sutra “Juseige,” and Rev. James Miyabe of Venice Free Methodist Church gave a prayer in English.
Judy Okita of West L.A. Japanese American Community Center introduced those who made floral and incense offerings, including Jimmy Fukuhara of Santa Monica Nikkeijin Kai, John Ikegami of Venice Japanese Community Center, Dr. David Fong of Venice Free Methodist Church, Robert Kafka of West L.A. Buddhist Temple, and Isao Ikehara of West L.A. Holiness Church.
Rev. Brian Nakamura led the gathering in singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and gave a sermon in English. Rev. Takashi Furuyama gave a sermon in Japanese. Both ministers are from West L.A. Holiness Church. Rev. Quon sang a gatha, “Ondokusan II,” and Rev. Fumiaki Usuki of West L.A. Buddhist Temple gave a sermon in English and Japanese.
Yahata gave closing remarks and the Boy Scouts retired the colors.
The event was sponsored by Santa Monica Nikkeijin Kai, Venice Japanese Community Center and West L.A. Japanese American Community Center.
The Ireito was conceived by community leaders in 1952 and dedicated in 1959 on a cemetery site donated by the City of Santa Monica. The monument was destroyed by an earthquake in January 1994 and a new one was dedicated at the 35th Memorial Day service in May of that year.