Church to read the names of 241,000 lives lost during the Battle of Okinawa

Julia LeDoux
March 20, 2020 - 12:17 pm
US Marines of the 1st Division wait on the crest of a hill in southern Okinawa, as they watch phosphorous shells explode over Japanese soldiers dug into the hills.

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All Souls Episcopal Church in Okinawa has a new mission for American service members.

Church representatives are seeking volunteers to read the names of the more than 241,000 people from around the world who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

The church will begin reading the names at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 and will continue daily through Okinawa Memorial Day on June 23, the same day of the 75th annual Irei no Hi ceremony at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, according to Stripes.

All Souls rector Rev. Irene Tanabe said the names will be read each day from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Prayer and a ceremonial bell ringing will come before each reading.

"We need as many people as possible," she said. "They do not have to be military or American or religious even."

Battle ofOkinawa

All Souls recited the names of the dead on the 50th anniversary of the battle in 1991. That reading was the brainchild of Rev. Timothy Nakayama, who died last year. Tanabe said she sees this year's reading as a way to honor not only Nakayama's legacy but to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle.

"I thought it would be good to honor Father Tim's legacy and repeat the reading of the names for this milestone year," she explained.

"All Souls Church was named for the war dead from all nations," Tanabe said. "In this way, each of these soldiers is our patron saint."

The Battle of Okinawa began April 1, 1945. Over the course of its 82 days, 14,000 American service members, about 110,000 Japanese service members and at least 140,000 Okinawan civilians lost their lives.

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