SASEBO, Japan (Nov. 9, 2018) Though they fell a century ago on fields and in seas far from home, the American and Japanese dead of World War I were remembered in a ceremony held in Sasebo Nov. 9, 2018.
Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo held the Armistice Day Centennial Remembrance Ceremony with participation from Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and Sasebo City to honor the servicemen of both nations who fought 1914-1918. To make it uniquely Sasebo it was held in a hall originally built in 1923 by the Imperial Japanese Navy to commemorate their part in World War I.
Japan joined the war Aug. 23, 1914 as an ally of Great Britain and was instrumental in driving the Germans from the Pacific, its navy pursuing the German East Asia Squadron and its army defeating Germany at their Far Eastern stronghold, Tsingtao. In 1917 a squadron of Sasebo-based ships was dispatched to the Mediterranean to protect allied convoys.
Joining with Americans across the world over the next few days, the bell of peace was rung 21 times in remembrance of the more than 116,000 American and 700 Japanese service members who died in the conflict. The 21 rings alludes to the 21 gun salute fired over fallen service members.
The Bells of Peace is a U.S. World War I Centennial Commission initiative participated in by Navy commands world-wide who will perform the 21 bell ringings on or around Nov. 11. The bell ringing was followed by a reciting of the “Ode of Remembrance.”
Capt. Brad Stallings, CFAS commanding officer, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Capt. Naonori Yoshikawa, and Sasebo City Vice Mayor Hiroshi Kawata gave remarks. This was followed by a reading of the places American and Japanese forces served, from the Pacific and Tsingtao in 1914 to the last battlefields of France in 1918, by U.S Navy and E.J. King High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps personnel and the playing of “Taps.”
“The world still is not at peace, but I am proud that today we still carry out the mission as the Navy did in 1918,” said Stallings. “Today, as then, Sasebo-based Sailors and ships of both our navies still go into harm’s way, protecting allies and securing the sea lanes of communication against antagonistic forces, and with the soldiers of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, we render critical aid to disaster stricken areas and contribute to stability in East Asia. Though the world in 1918 may be nearly unrecognizable to today’s Sailors, our mission remains the same and we must follow in their footsteps and continue to work together to ensure a better and more peaceful world.”
Now Veterans Day in the U.S., Nov. 11 was originally Armistice Day and was a day of remembrance for those who died in World War I. It became a day to honor all veterans in 1954. It is honored in Britain and the Commonwealth, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and other former allied powers as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day.