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    Soto Dam Memorial Ceremony 2021

    Soto Dam Memorial Ceremony 2021

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Ikusebiala | SASEBO, Japan (May 28, 2021) – Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo Capt. David Adams...... read more read more

    SASEBO, Japan (May 28, 2021) - Built on wartime sacrifices, Soto Dam has served the Sasebo community as more than just a vital water source, but also as an example of how the United States and Japan overcame their dark past as enemies in World War II. For the past 65 years, the dam’s memorial has been a place for both sides to come together and commemorate the lives lost during its construction and reaffirm their bonds as friends and allies.
    Members of Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Sasebo City, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and community leadership held the annual Soto Dam memorial ceremony at the dam located in the Yunoki District of Sasebo City May 28, 2021. The bilateral ceremony, normally attended by the public, was limited due to COVID-19 preventative measures and even cancelled in the previous year due to the height of the COVID-19 environment, but has been resumed following the lifting of the severest preventative measures.
    “Years after the war (WWII) in 1956, then Mayor Yamanaka and the people of Sasebo City took it upon themselves to commemorate the Americans and Japanese who died building this dam by constructing this memorial tower in their memory and in honor of their sacrifice,” said Capt. David Adams, CFAS commanding officer. “I greatly admire Mayor Yamanaka and the people of Sasebo for their ability to look past the unpleasant events in our mutual history, enabling us to come together today in this beautiful place to commemorate the sacrifices of our countrymen, standing side by side as friends and allies.”
    Soto Dam has served as a vital water source for Sasebo since its construction during WWII by approximately 265 American civilian construction workers imprisoned by the Japanese after the surrender of Wake Island on Dec. 23, 1941. The group was then transported to Japan to complete construction projects like the dam alongside Japanese laborers. 53 American POWs and 14 Japanese laborers died building the dam, and they are memorialized today at the site by the large memorial tower and a brass plaque onto which their names are engraved.
    “Seventy six years have passed since World War II,” said Sasebo City Mayor Norio Tomonaga. “Even now when I imagine the suffering of the victims, I am overwhelmed by sadness and I feel heartbreaking grief. We would like to remember in our hearts again that Soto Dam was built upon many sacrifices during the unfortunate history of war. I wish the friendship that has been built between the U.S. and Japan will continue forever.”
    After Adams and Tomonaga spoke, Sailors from CFAS and the JMSDF read the names of the 53 Americans and 14 Japanese who perished at the dam. Flowers were lain at the memorial by Adams, Tomonaga, CFAS Command Master Chief (CMDCM) Rudy Johnson, JMSDF JS Sawagiri (DD-157) CMDCM Tadashi Omae, CFAS and JMSDF Chief Petty Officers Association representatives, Sasebo City Water Bureau Director Kunji Tanimoto and Yunoki District Association Chairman Hideo Nagafuchi.
    “Originally, Memorial Day or Decoration Day began as the day when veterans, family members and communities across the United States would visit military cemeteries to clean the graves and headstones and decorate them with flowers in the month of May,” said Adams. “Today we continue America’s Memorial Day tradition in Sasebo as we offer flowers here at Soto Dam, remembering those who died in the defense of a nation, and reflect on the cost of service and those who paid for it with their lives.”
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    Date Taken: 05.28.2021
    Date Posted: 05.28.2021 04:25
    Story ID: 397676
    Location: SASEBO, NAGASAKI, JP

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