FSMIS (February 24, 2014): On February 17, Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori joined the Leadership of Chuuk State, other dignitaries, residents and visitors at the Blue Lagoon Resort on Weno Island in commemorating the 70th anniversary year of Operation Hailstone.
Codenamed "operation hailstone", the aerial attack took place on February 17 -18, 1944 on the Japanese naval fleet and military establishment within the Chuuk Lagoon, mostly clustered to the Island of Tonoas, the urban center for the Japanese Administration. However, civilian casualties were also experienced on nearby islands such as Fefen, Uman, Weno, Etten, Parem and Tol.
The commemoration ceremony took place under the coordination from a working group formed by Governor Johnson Elimo, with much of the promotion and logistical arrangement facilitated by the Chuuk Visitor's Bureau.
Speaking on behalf of Governor Elimo, Mr. Tesime Kofot, Director of the Department of Marine Resources, welcomed the high-level dignitaries to the occasion and thanked them for joining at the event, including FSM President Mori, Ambassador of the United States Doria Rosen, Ambassador of Japan Eiichi Suzuki, Chuuk State House of Representative Speaker Inosenti Oneisom, FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert, and a few others.
During his remarks, President Mori asked that those victimized by the bombing be remembered in prayers, saying:
On this solemn occasion, and in their loving memory, let us remember and keep in our prayers all those who perished on this day 70 years ago; that their souls are at rest, and that there will never be another conflict in our part of the world; and that our islands and our people will never again be made innocent victims of foreign wars and conflicts.
He also commented on the importance of the remembrance ceremony.
As we reflect on the importance of this day, we all can agree that this gathering marks a ceremony that is truly for PEACE. For in coming together today, we are not commemorating a victory of war but the true victory achieved in retaining peace.
Speaking after the President, the United States Ambassador to the FSM, Madam Doria Rosen, also spoke on the sentiments underscored by the gathering.
70 years is a long time in the life of an individual, and there are few who personally remember the battle fought here in February 17, 1944. But that's all the more reasons for a remembrance ceremony like the one today. We must not forget history; and we must learn from that history. Those who died here were fighting for a cause they believed in. And they deserve to be remembered and honored.
Ambassador Rosen said the conflict was not Chuuk's battle, and that no one can change that historical course today. However, she said the FSM, United States and Japan can focus on mutual benefits moving into the future.
Japan Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki echoed the statements previously made by President Mori and Ambassador Rosen on how the United States and Japan have forged a very strong relations in spite of the countries' adversarial stance in the so called "Pacific Conflict". He said,
Today, Japan and the United States are close and allied countries.. Furthermore, both countries also have very friendly and strong relations- kizuna- with the FSM which also brings us together at the ceremony to commemorate and pay respect for those who have passed on.
Ambassador Suzuki also said that since the war, Japan created a democratic country that consistently walks the path of peace, and that it will commit to doing so moving into the future.
In concluding his statement, President Mori called for attention to the Chuuk Lagoon water itself, asking that its pristine quality be maintained and that it be treated as a "sacred place" in honor of those who died there as a result of the war. He also said that he would maintain his appeal regarding Chuuk Lagoon, saying, "I will continue to ask for the support and cooperation of our development partners and friends to help protect our Chuuk Lagoon from any catastrophic disaster".
Some of the Word War II sunken ships at various parts of the Lagoon still contain huge quantities of oil as revealed through various media and studies conducted by third party institutions.
The United States Navy Ship SODERMAN was in Chuuk during the time of the commemoration under the command of Lt. Commander Pinksdon.
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