Special Tribute

On 17 May 2008, I was invited by Vice Admiral Kazuo Ueda to attend a memorial service for the Imperial Japanese Navy midget submariners at the Hatami Shrine in Kure, Japan. I stood respectfully off to the side as veterans and widows made a ritual offering of sakaki (Sacred Tree of Shinto) branches to the kami (spirits) of the special submarine warriors. I was surprised when at the end of the roll call, Admiral Ueda called my name to come forward and make my own offering to the kami of those men whom I have studied for so long. I was profoundly honoured to do so. Even though my heritage is the US Navy, I could honestly pay my deep respect for fellow sailors on both sides of the conflict who sacrificed their lives for their country.

- Parks Stephenson