U.S. and Japanese veterans donate monument to peace to Hiroshima elementary school

by Yuki Kuwata, Staff Writer

A total of about 40 U.S. and Japanese veterans of World War II, who played softball to deepen friendship between the two nations at Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima this past April, have donated a monument bearing the pledge to never again engage in war. The bench-shaped monument, made of marble, was placed on the schoolyard on August 5.

The monument is 60 centimeters high and 2.5 meters wide, and includes carvings of the flags of Japan and the United States on its back, along with a Japanese inscription which reads: “Monument pledging no more war between Japan and the United States.” The names of the players and their slogan, “Baseballs for bullets,” are also inscribed. The players from both the Japanese and American teams made donations to defray the 3 million yen cost of the monument.

Roughly 100 people, including about 20 sixth graders representing the school, Japanese players, and other participants attended the unveiling ceremony. Kazo Watanabe, 83, chairman of the executive committee of the softball game and a resident of Gifu Prefecture, spoke to the attendees, remarking, “We created the monument in the shape of a bench so people can sit and reflect on the importance of peace.” Fumiya Yoshikane, 12, a sixth grader at the school, said, “I want to consider, with the people around me, what we can do to realize a more peaceful world.”

At Honkawa Elementary School, about 400 students fell victim to the atomic bombing. The softball game was organized, with a wish for peace, by U.S. and Japanese veterans who fought in the Pacific War.

(Originally published on August 6, 2009)

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