September 27th is proclaimed “PIGS FROM THE SEA DAY” in Hawai’i. The Aloha State celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Pigs from the Sea, honoring the Okinawan community in the Hawaiian Islands for their efforts in continuing the spirit of yuimaaru and aloha today, and recognizing those who did their part in bridging two cultures and two islands together.
In 1948, the Hawaii Okinawan community banded together to help the people of Okinawa after the devastation of WWII. They raised over $50,000 (today, that would be about half a million) and sent over 550 pigs from Omaha, Nebraska (via Portland, Oregon) on the USS John Owen. Seven men were sent to keep the pigs alive. One month later, the pigs arrived in Okinawa. The pigs were distributed across the islands. Okinawans today still talk of the pigs that came across the sea and how much this life saving gift of aloha changed their lives.
This story is about yuimaaru. Communities supporting one another, especially in times of need. It is a reminder for all of us to live yuimaaru, in both small and big endeavors and decisions.
Pigs shipped by Japanese immigrants in Hawaii arrive at a port in Okinawa Prefecture in September 1948. | URUMA BOARD OF EDUCATION / KYODO
WHEREAS, in 1945, Allied Forces launched an invasion of the island of Okinawa in what would become the final and bloodiest battle of the war in the Pacific where thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed, and both land and livelihoods were ravaged; and
WHEREAS, in 1947, despite difficult economic times in Hawai’i, a group of Okinawans decided to help their kin across the ocean by raising $47,196 in six months to purchase and ship 550 pigs to help alleviate the severe food shortages; and
WHEREAS, in August 1948, seven Okinawan men from Hawai’i, along with the crew of the USS Owen, set sail from Oregon but encountered a severe storm that destroyed the makeshift pigsties and resulted in some pigs being lost overboard; and
WHEREAS, on the USS Owen’s second attempt at a 6,069-mile journey through multiple storms, 536 pigs arrived at White Beach, Okinawa on September 27, 1948; and WHEREAS, since pork is a staple food in Okinawa, the shipment of pigs helped Okinawans to restart pig farms for sustenance and saved hundreds of lives, and the gift has since become a symbol of the strong relationship between Okinawa and Hawai’i; and
WHEREAS, in Okinawan culture, the practice of yuimaaru is the act of being part of something greater than yourself, giving comfort to others with a warm heart, which today goes hand in hand with the spirit of aloha; and
WHEREAS,yuimaaru was at the core of a life-saving shipment of the “Pigs from the Sea” which was an unforgettable humanitarian effort after World War II;
THEREFORE I, DAVID Y. IGE, Governor, and I, DOUGLAS S. CHIN, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai’i, do hereby proclaim September 27, 2018 as
“PIGS FROM THE SEA DAY”
in Hawai’i and ask the people of the Aloha State to join us in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Pigs from the Sea, honoring the Okinawan community in the Hawaiian Islands for their efforts in continuing the spirit of yuimaaru and aloha today, and recognizing those who did their part in bridging two cultures and two islands together.
Done at the State Capitol, in Executive Chambers, Honolulu, State of Hawai’i, this fifth day of September 2018.