CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The 64th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa will be observed Tuesday at Peace Prayer Park in Itoman.
The ceremony marks the end of the 83-day battle, the last major land battle of World War II, and is sponsored by the Okinawa prefectural government in memory of the 240,856 people who died during the fierce fighting.
Their names are inscribed on 1,200 black granite walls that stretch to the sea in an area known as Mabuni Hill, the site of the Japanese Imperial Army’s last defensive position during the battle. A special ceremony sponsored by the USO will start at 10:30 a.m. at the section of the wall that includes the names of the 14,009 Americans killed during the battle.
After the USO observance, the prefecture’s ceremony will begin at 11:50 a.m. and will feature silent prayer, offerings of flowers and a poem recitation by an Okinawan elementary school student.
More than 5,500 people are expected to attend the ceremony including, Prime Minister Taro Aso and Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima.
USO Okinawa will provide free transportation to the event, but reservations must be made by Monday through the USO main office at 645-2662.
The bus will depart from the American Legion parking lot near Camp Foster at 8 a.m., Camp Kinser Bldg. 107 at 8:20 a.m. and the Seaman’s Club in Naha at 8:40 a.m. The bus will leave Peace Prayer Park following the prefectural ceremony at 12:40 a.m.
Dress for the occasion is business casual. Military members have been asked by the prefecture not to wear their uniforms.