The absence of signage made finding it a challenge. It was a steamy-hot summer day on Okinawa. Leaving the comfortable air conditioning of the taxi, my sunglasses immediately fogged-up. As a native of the American South, I am used to heat and humidity, but this was something different. Half an hour later, my son, Zachary, and I were soaked with sweat from walking up a nice, gentle sidewalk leading to what the U.S. Marines who had fought here called “Hacksaw Ridge.”
Okinawa is one of 6,852 Japanese islands. Situated in the East China Sea between Taiwan and the Japanese mainland, it is seventy miles long and, on average, seven miles wide, making it the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. Though free and thriving today, it was the site of some of the fiercest fighting during the Second World War. Apart from Japanese and American military casualties, as many as 150,000 Okinawan civilians lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa.