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Helping the Living by Caring for the Dead
by Paul E. Truesdell Jr., April 17, 2000
Paul E. Truesdell Jr. submits this
follow-up piece describing the efforts of the local VFW to clean
up and maintain the International Cemetery of Okinawa, Japan.
"Helping The Living By Caring For The Dead" is the motto of Okinawa
VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States) Post #9723 at
Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. This is in reference to the monthly grass
trimming and general clean up of the International Cemetery, Tomari,
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||Click to enlarge
According to Kelly Anderson, Chairman of the committee responsible
for the overseeing of the international cemetery, in March of 1999
the VFW assumed the responsibility of caring for the cemetery. The
first cleanup day the grass was knee high and the cemetery grounds
were covered with the litter of months; perhaps years. A U.S. Marine
Corps 5-ton truck was employed during that cleanup and five truckloads
of trash were taken away and disposed of. The one day scheduled
for that particular clean up turned into two days and the volunteers
making the clean up worked long and hard.
Today, because of a large volunteer program, the International
Cemetery is kept free of litter, and the lawns are trimmed one Sunday,
each and every month. In addition, Kelly Anderson with his co-chairman,
Harry Thomas, under the auspices of the VFW, perform burial ceremonies
when requested by the families of the deceased, and hold an annual
Memorial Day service at the cemetery.
- Paul E. Truesdell, Jr. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Retired from the U.S. Navy, Paul lives in Okinawa
with his wife, children and grandchildren, and is employed as
a photographer for the U.S. Marine Corps. He has a BA in
English and Asian Studies from the University of Maryland, Far
Eastern Division. Often spends his time on genealogy, fishing,
photography, and studying Okinawan history and culture.
Editor's Note: Please visit the preceding article,
"The International Cemetery
of Tomari" also by Mr. Truesdell.