CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY
Dear Readers. This post (on the surface) may not seem flashy or visually appealing. But please take the time to read about what this guy is doing. I was really moved by his project. Start with Victor’s webpage below, and then move to the Stars and Stripes article recently published about him. I first heard of Victor when I read the article. I wanted to ask him some more questions, and also to find out about how readers can get involved in his generous project on a local level.
Victors webpage HERE
Stars and Stripes article HERE
1. How did this idea originate? What compelled you to create the website?
The idea for OkinawaMemorialRubbings.org stemmed from a conversation that I had with my Grandfather in July of 07. While at a family reunion, he told me about his cousin that was killed on island. I had told him that there was a monument/park that was constructed to remember all that was lost and he asked me to retrieve a name rubbing for the family. When we returned from leave, my first thought was, there has to be someone on island that’s already doing something like this, and after quickly searching the web, we realized there was nothing out there. From there the idea was decided upon by my wife and I to undertake the research and build this website.
2. How many requests do you get- on average?
Every month is different. Some months like July, the site had 11 requests. This month I’ve had 2, to include one that needs to have his name corrected due to his name is missing a “Y” on the end of his name. Progress has been slow, with an average of 4 names per month. Although, this has been the case, back in the States there has been and will be several WW2 associations that are having reunions. Needless to say, I’m expecting a massing influx of name requests.
3. Tell us one amazing story that you have heard as a result of you helping families heal
I’ve recently had a lady that found the website, while searching for information on her father. Ironically enough, she found her father’s engraved name on the 4th of July. This is really what the purpose of the website is all about. It’s nice to be able to complete a void that some of these families/friends have. Once the package is sent I usually will receive a thank you, and that’s really all we ask for.
4. Joelle, our editor, was wondering how she can help – both of her grandfathers were in WW2.
Thank you first of all for your interest in wanting to help. As of now, what I really need help out with is getting the website out there. To be honest the site has kind of hit a dry spell. As of now the site averages between 20-30 hits a day, most are just site cruisers. I think it’d be great to get a massive influx of requests and put together a power team of volunteers, spending half a day putting packages together. So if you have any idea , please let me know.
5. What is one thing you would like the Okinawa Hai readers to know about:
One thing I think is really important is: This Island that we live on is full of history. Even if you’re not a history buff there is so much to learn from this place. More than likely, most will never return once their tour is over. Either it can be hopelessly boring, or an absolute adventure chalked full of great stories. This project is a perfect way to make you tour more interesting as well as help others along the way, and who knows you might actually find you enjoy the history part of it. Also, I don’t have a historian’s degree, I just find this island fascinating. If you see something that you like added to the site or if you see something that needs corrected, just let me know.
6. How have you changed as a result of embarking on this project?
I think if anything, I’ve really become fascinated with the entire battle. From the invasion between Kadena to Tori Station, to the finally battle at Maburi Hill (Peace Memorial Park). It’s truly humbling to look over everything that’s happened here and see how the local population has rebounded and made us a part of their existence here. The more I investigated the battle facts the more I realized what actually happened here. If you haven’t already on the site I’ve posted pictures of a English journal that’s at the Memorial Museum, you absolutely must read the personal accounts of the war.
7. How will this project continue when you leave the island?
The Future is still unknown…. I’ve had several that have showed interest in taking it over when we leave but we will see who actually pulls though….
I hope that you feel as moved as I did when reading about Victor’s project. Sometimes, being an American living here- all I can feel is sad when I read about our past history with Japan. Here’s something that can simply put- make people feel better. Maybe you want to recruit a group from your work, or your mom’s group to help spend a day rubbing names or organizing packets for families back home. The small things that we give as a community is what help build relationships. Because when you live in a community, no matter where on the map it is, it’s the people that make the place- not the location. If you want to contact Victor about helping- or just tell him what a good guy he is, here’s his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org