25 February, 2007

Japanese Ambassador Honors Wounded Veterans

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Army Pfc. Marissa Strock , left, a double-leg amputee wounded in Iraq, and her mother, Sandi Ogden, follow Japanese Lt. Col. Ichiro Sato's instructions as they fold origami paper into cranes during an evening at Ambassador Ryozo Kato's residence Feb. 23 in Washington, D.C. Defense Dept. photo by John J. Kruzel.

The article doesn't mention it, but I believe this was one of the rotating dinners for the wounded that have continued despite the demise of Fran O'Brien's. This week the Japanese Ambassador hosted the dinner in the finest tradition of Japanese hospitality and grace.
In Japan, people make origami paper cranes for the sick and injured as a prayer for their recovery. A group of 70 wounded U.S. veterans and their family members found such cranes waiting for them on their dinner tables last night, when they attended a dinner in their honor at the residence of Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato. [snip]

“The grateful people of Japan wish each of you health and success in the years ahead, just as we wish for the nation you serve,” Kato said, quoting [Japanese Ambassador Prime Minister] Abe.

Before dinner began, Kato ended by telling troops that although the two cultures differ, U.S. servicemembers represent Japan’s “samurai spirit.” “Samurais serve with valor, with honor, with loyalty, with respectful, ethical behavior,” he said. “And so have you.”

There was much more to the event--including baseball!--and it sounds like the Japanese really outdid themselves in providing a warm and welcoming event for the wounded. Read it all, and be reminded again of what special friends our former enemies have become.

UPDATE: If the name "Marissa Strock" (in the picture above) sounds familiar to you, it should. She's the woman who walked on her prosthetic legs into Jim Mayer's arms at the last Fran O'Brien's dinner. You can find more about her through a Google search. A recent article reports that she is rock-climbing.

[H/T Gazing at the Flag, who is up for a MilBloggie and would certainly be a deserving winner.]