Why World War II veterans are returning captured Japanese flags

One of the enduring images of WWII in the Pacific Theater is of US soldiers. Marines, and troops of Allied forces posing with captured Japanese flags. Hundreds, maybe thousands of those flags were brought home by victorious troops, and remain with them,or their children or grandchildren today.

However, most of those captured Japanese flags were not regimental or divisional flags. They were the personal belongings of individual Japanese soldiers, autographed by family, friends, and coworkers, and kept in the solider’s pocket or backpack as a good luck charm or memento of the love of those the solider had left behind.

The yosegaki hinomaru  of a dead WWII Japanese soldier

From We Are The Mighty .com:

But American troops had no idea these flags were the personal keepsakes of fallen individuals and not unit flags carried by the Japanese army. Now that the men who captured these battlefield trophies are aging and dying, the flags are being sold off or thrown away altogether, but there’s a better way to handle these pieces of history: giving them back.

And that’s what World War II veterans and their families are doing. Through the international nonprofit Obon Society, families and veterans who still possess a captured yosegaki hinomaru are tracking down the Japanese veterans and families of Japanese veterans of the Pacific War to return the family heirlooms and help the aging veterans heal their decades-old, invisible wounds.

 If you or your departed veterans have a flag like the ones seen in the photos above, contact the Obon Society to return the flag to its family and maybe even make contact with them.

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