Bloody Battle of Tarawa remembered in Kiribati

Photo: Tourism Authority of Kiribati

Kiribati has commemorated the 79th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa in a solemn dawn ceremony at the US World War II memorial in Betio, South Tarawa.

The Battle of Tarawa was one of the first battles in the Pacific War during the war – and one of the bloodiest.

By the end of the campaign, nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died on Betio in the 76 hours of fighting.

In his address, Kiribati president Taneti Maamau said while history cannot be changed, the bravery, courage and selfless determination of the fallen and of the survivors must forever be recognised and honoured.

“By remembering, by telling our stories, we hope that their legacy becomes a source of inspiration for nations to forge peace with one another,” he said.

In attendance was a delegation from the US Embassy in Suva, Fiji led by Army Attaché Lt Colonel John Paul Smock, the High Commissioner of New Zealand to Kiribati, Andre Van Der Walt, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Timothy Gill, Deputy Mayor of Betio, Government officials and community elders.

Lt Colonel Smock said that “today, the United States is enhancing its commitment to Kiribati and the Blue Pacific, and I thank God that I am privileged enough to be part of that effort. Our shared past unites us, and our shared future will only make us stronger.”

He thanked everyone present for their time today and for the opportunity to remember those who gave so much in the cause of freedom.

Source: RNZ