OKINAWANS VISIT SAIPAN WWII BATTLE SITE

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By Edith G. Alejandro

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, ) - A
delegation of the Micronesian Repatriation Association of Okinawa arrived
Wednesday on Saipan for the group’s 34th annual pilgrimage tour to the CNMI.

At least 150 delegates made it to this year's pilgrimage-the
smallest number in the last several years.

In a ceremony Thursday morning at the Okinawa Peace Memorial
Tower in Banzai Cliff, the visitors offered prayers to honor those who perished
during World War II.

Besides the annual memorial service, the visit also commemorated
the friendship that the group has established with Saipan students, which has
been in place since 1968.

"The association is not only here for the pilgrimage tour
but are also to visit their birthplace," Pacific Development Inc.
coordinator Gordon Marciano said.

The MRA delegates performed a traditional Okinawan dance called
Yotsutake in honor of the dead and to bring peace to everyone.

Marciano said the group chartered a direct Continental Airlines
flight from Okinawa and was scheduled to make their peace memorial service at
the Okinawa Peace Memorial Towers on Saipan on June 5 and Tinian on June 6.

"MRA extend their utmost appreciation to everyone for all
the preparations in ensuring a successful pilgrimage. Although many of their
members did not make it to this year's tour due to the SARS epidemic, the group
is happy to be home and they hope and pray that next year, all will be well for
their 35th anniversary," the PDI official said.

On Thursday night, the delegation met with local leaders and
community members to hold the CNMI Saipan and Okinawa Friendship night at the
Hafa Adai Beach Hotel.

Members of the Legislature and acting Gov. Diego T. Benavente
handed out a commemorative resolution to MRA chair Chong Ken Ginoza in
recognition of the groups' steadfast support to the Commonwealth for the past 34
years.

MRA representatives said that Okinawa has a proud culture that
has long promoted peace in the conduct of government and in ruling the country.

They said that, for more than 600 years, they have decorated
their homes with the shamisen, a traditional guitar, instead of weapons.
"It is of because this harmony and rhythm from shamisen that ties the
hearts to everyone as one," the delegates said.

The MRA believes that in order to build a peaceful world, it is
important for each citizen to understand each other and promote communication
based on trust.

June 9, 2003

Saipan Tribune: http://www.tribune.co.mp/ 

http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?news_cat=1&newsID=28922 

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