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Helping the Living by Caring for the Dead

by Paul E. Truesdell Jr., April 17, 2000

Paul E. Truesdell Jr. submits this follow-up piece describing the efforts of the local VFW to clean up and maintain the International Cemetery of Okinawa, Japan.

"Helping The Living By Caring For The Dead" is the motto of Okinawa VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States) Post #9723 at Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. This is in reference to the monthly grass trimming and general clean up of the International Cemetery, Tomari, Naha, Okinawa.

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According to Kelly Anderson, Chairman of the committee responsible for the overseeing of the international cemetery, in March of 1999 the VFW assumed the responsibility of caring for the cemetery. The first cleanup day the grass was knee high and the cemetery grounds were covered with the litter of months; perhaps years. A U.S. Marine Corps 5-ton truck was employed during that cleanup and five truckloads of trash were taken away and disposed of. The one day scheduled for that particular clean up turned into two days and the volunteers making the clean up worked long and hard.

Today, because of a large volunteer program, the International Cemetery is kept free of litter, and the lawns are trimmed one Sunday, each and every month. In addition, Kelly Anderson with his co-chairman, Harry Thomas, under the auspices of the VFW, perform burial ceremonies when requested by the families of the deceased, and hold an annual Memorial Day service at the cemetery.

- Paul E. Truesdell, Jr. [petjr@nirai.ne.jp]

Retired from the U.S. Navy, Paul lives in Okinawa with his wife, children and grandchildren, and is employed as a photographer for the U.S. Marine Corps.  He has a BA in English and Asian Studies from the University of Maryland, Far Eastern Division.  Often spends his time on genealogy, fishing,  photography, and studying Okinawan history and culture.

Editor's Note: Please visit the preceding article, "The International Cemetery of Tomari" also by Mr. Truesdell.

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