21 June 2007

Interesting name change because of history

One of my friends sent a note about how Japan is changing the name of a famous island in both Japanese and American history. That is the island of Iwo Jima. Instead the Japanese are changing the name to the pre-war name of Iwo To. The government is doing this to make some of the former citizens feel better, because Iwo To is how the name was pronounced before the war and it was some Imperial Japanese Naval officers who made the mistakes of calling it Iwo Jima. I am not completely sure how I feel about this because as a student of history, when you look at a map and try to find area's where history has occurred you will see names change all over the maps of the world.

In case you don't know Iwo Jima is where 30,000 US Marines landed and faced off with 20,000 Imperial Japanese troops. One quarter of the Medal of Honor winners for the US Marine Corps were issued during the battle. Later on in the battle another 40,000 US Marines would land, at the end 25,000 men were casualties and 7000 were killed. If you crunch the numbers to take an island that is 8 square miles around the Marines suffered eighty percent casualties of those that landed. If you crunch it even further basically 32 men were injured or killed per every square mile to route out a fanatical enemy that was dug in and taught to die by their religious convictions. It was also a place that helped to fortify the mythos of the Marines. The US owned the island till 1968 when it was returned to the Japanese. Now it is a dual use base. 7th Fleet which is forward deploy in Japan uses the airbase there as a training field for carrier landings and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force usually has some fighters as quick reaction force based there.

This is the dedication of a memorial to the Marines lost during the attempt to secure the island on the 50th Anniversary. The man speaking is the Honorable John Dalton. The memorial was put up on the exact spot that the Joe Rosenthal Photo showed the second flag going up. The last two photos are from the 58th anniversary. 3rd MEF commander speaking in front of the dedication to the Japanese men and finally a shot of the island today.

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