Dignitaries, students and World War II veterans attended Wednesday’s ceremony on the USS Arizona Memorial, held to offer prayers to those who perished in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
HONOLULU — For the past 26 years, Dr. Hiroya Sugano, director general of the Zero Fighter Admirers’ Club in Japan, has traveled to Pearl Harbor to conduct a ceremony of peace and reconciliation aboard the USS Arizona Memorial.
On the eve of the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and with the assistance of the National Park Service and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Sugano offered prayers and poured bourbon whisky from a war-blackened canteen into the water from the USS Arizona Memorial as an offering to the spirits of the fallen.
On the night of June 20, 1945, during a bombing raid over Shizuoka, two Army Air Force B-29s from the 314th Bomb Wing out of Guam collided and crashed, killing 23 crewmen. The raid also claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Shizuoka citizens.
A Shizuoka businessman and farmer, Fukumatsu Ito, was at the scene of the crash, pulling from the wreckage U.S. airmen who were fatally injured. He also retrieved a blackened canteen, distorted from the heat and bearing what appeared to be a handprint of its late owner seared onto the surface.
A devout Buddhist, Ito believed all life is precious and bore no hatred or ill will towards America for the loss of civilian life in Shizuoka. Shortly after the raid, he started the tradition of conducting an annual ceremony, honoring those who had paid the ultimate price as a result of war. During the ceremony, a silent prayer was said and bourbon whiskey was poured from the blackened canteen onto the crash site as an offering to the spirits of the fallen, both Japanese and American.