Returning a piece of Japan’s history

Most topics can be studied or learned with the use of a textbook and writing, but a person’s interest generally becomes greater when a hands-on activity is involved.

Just ask the students of Vincent High School’s Army JROTC.

During the middle of an in-depth study of WWII in the Pacific Ocean, we were surprised with a historical artifact actually taken from the Battle of Okinawa.

The unit’s Senior Army Instructor, Lt. Col. Larry Moore, shared with us a personally inscribed Japanese flag given to him by an American WWII veteran.

This relic raised much interest from the students, and we proposed an idea that would require research and involvement: to repatriate the flag and return it to its rightful owner or family in Japan.

We students had no idea where to send the flag or how to even begin.

After extensive research, we found the Japanese Consul would be their best opportunity.

Each JROTC class put together a professional letter to send to the Japanese government.

Every letter contained the same components: who we were, how we acquired the flag, what our intentions were and why we felt it was their duty to return the flag.

Each student had a differing opinion, but overall, the cadets knew it was a task that needed to be accomplished; it seemed the responsible and respectful thing to do, and we knew the flag would be more meaningful to its owner’s descendents, family and home town than to us.

At the end of December, the letter was finally mailed off to the Japanese consul. We waited for a much-anticipated response.

Upon returning from Christmas break, we received a surprising fax from the Japanese Consul.

Included in the fax was paperwork requiring us to show we were not attempting to sell the flag to Japan.

The fax also informed us that the process might take some time, considering the fact that the family/individual to whom the flag belonged must be located in Japan.

The completed paperwork was returned, and we eagerly anticipate a response.