VFW hosts Memorial Day ceremony at Yokohama War Cemetery
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- With a silent salute, representatives from branches of the U.S. military, allied representatives from Canadian and British forces and the Boys Scouts of America honored service members who have died in service to their respective nations during a Memorial Day ceremony held May 26 at the Yokohama War Cemetery in Hodogaya.
The ceremony was organized by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1054, based at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
"Memorial Day is a time to remember those who served and proudly gave it all," said Homer Kemper, a retired Navy veteran and the VFW Post 1054 district commander for mainland Japan.
The VFW Post 1054 hosts the memorial ceremony annually to pay tribute to the 335 fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Commonwealth, the United States and the Netherlands who all died as prisoners of war in Japan.
Adorned with red poppies, military representatives, veterans and guests listened to the reading of Moina Michaels' poem -- "We cherish too, the poppy red, that grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies, that blood of heroes never dies." -- followed by taps and then a moment of silence.
The "Two Bell" ceremony, which honors departed sailors and shipmates, was led by VFW Post 1054 Commander Rick Farris and Jon Oliver, Fleet Reserve Association member, before each participating military branch representative placed wreaths and flowers at the Yokohama Cremation Memorial, an urn containing the ashes of the 335 fallen service members.
"Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to pay our respects to the comrades that went on before us," said Randell Himes, VFW Atsugi 9612 senior vice commander.
Himes said Memorial Day events are not only for the departed, but for all military services as well.
"(Memorial Day) is for all of us ... to show our respect to the people that have served and lost their lives, and to show our support for the people that are doing that job now."