Nobody Left in This World to Kiss Goodnight
Topic: "Kiribati Republic"(6)
Eventually, there will be a day when Frodo is no more. He neither dwells upon nor contemplates such events, but he is often struck by the contrasts of life and death, for there are certainly a wealth of thoughtful stories whispered in cemeteries in all parts of Middle Earth. One such story is presented here because Frodo has personal knowledge of the place, if not the time. The place is a string of volcanic islands in the South Pacific known now as the Kiribati Republic, which were formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, in recognition of the British Sea Captain who "discovered" them a couple of centuries ago. The capital of the Kiribati Republic is named Tarawa.
Frodo and Sam experienced a "Margaret Mead moment," when they took a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands (interestingly, first dubbed the "Cook Islands" for a reason similar to the original name of the Kiribati Republic) upon a foreign-flagged ship. The law at the time required that any foreign-flagged carrier which commenced travel in a US port must visit a "foreign" port before again docking in a domestic port. This would prevent, for example, British Airways from flying between New York and Los Angeles in direct competition with US Airliners. The British Airways flight would have to land in, say, Winnipeg, before continuing on to either destination. This "protectionist" restriction would give the US companies a competitive edge, for sure. In Frodo's case, the cruise begain in Honululu, thereby requiring that the foreign-flagged ship had to land at the nearest foreign port before landing at Hilo. It is 500 miles, and two days sailing at 25 knots-per-hour, to Fanning Island, which is part of the Kiribati Republic, and which served as the foreign port for Frodo's cruise.
Fanning Island sits in 17,000 feet of water, and is merely the lip of an extinct volcano which rises a massive 15 feet out of the ocean. There are about 250 inhabitants, and they are entirely dependent on tourist commerce for their existence, and that ain't much. Their future, if any, is entirely dictated by the concept of "global warming."
Tarawa is another island in the chain, and it was the scene of one of the most storied battles of World War II. For the most part, it is relatively easy to research the ferocity of the battle in 1943, and to thereby contemplate the cost to the victorious allies. What we all seem to overlook however, is the other guys.
Of the 4500 Japanese soldiers who dug in and "defended" Tarawa, only 17 survived.
USMC Sgt. "Ray" Totten survived the battle, and had time afterwards to do a little souvenir searching from the remains of the opposition. He evidently found a handwritten letter, in Japanese, written by Petty Officer First Class Matashiga Koga of the Japanese Imperial Navy. From the translation we now know that Koga had written "Today is the last day." Totten, upon his death, willed the letter to his grand-nephew, Scott Addison, of suburban Atlanta. Addison subsequently felt inspired to see if he couldn't deliver the letter to those for whom it was originally intended. So far, he has had limited success, for it is not far afield from trying to find the relative of an American named "Smith" who may have passed away more than 60 years ago.
What strikes Frodo is that given the ferocity, the brutality, the very horrific nature of the conflict that separated the Americans from the Japanese, with the passage of time, it is the off-spring of the enemy who seek to honor participants in the struggle, on either side. Frodo has no doubt that Scott Addison will eventually deliver that letter, in person, and he won't even charge the lost warrior's family for postage. Our stories, it seems, cross lines of time-and-space, and even the cemetery is robbed of its secrets. It is then that we are all equal, and hate withers into history.
Posted by loveysdaddyga
at 11:45 AM EST