Grays River Grange News


March 21, 2024

Rex Ziak is the presenter of the movie, “Natural Timber Country”. He made a name for himself as a Lewis and Clark historian. He also heads the Oban Society, whose mission is “To foster peace, friendship, and reconciliation among families and nations. The mission is to repatriate battlefield souvenirs from World War II, with a particular emphasis on the Yosegaki Hinomaru (Japanese Good Luck Flags).” Rex discovered the flag story during a visit to the country with his wife, Keiko. Keiko has her own Hinomaru story, which is common of what most Japanese experienced in WWII. Japanese soldiers would carry good luck flags with them, which were signed by friends, neighbors and family. Many American soldiers would find these flags on fallen Japanese soldiers and keep them as souvenirs. These flags have been discovered as part of the belongings left from the WWII generation who served in the Pacific. The heirs give the flags to the Oban Society to return to families in Japan. The flags are reunited with family and serve as the only “remain” of a solider to return home. In one case, a 102 year old widow was actually buried with the flag of her husband who died in the war. In another case, a group of American veterans travelled to Japan with the Hinomaru flags. The group was received with high honors by the Prime Minister at a formal ceremony. Last Friday the 15th, Rex Ziak was presented the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, in recognition of his contributions to promoting understanding and friendly relations between Japan and the United States. The Consul of Japan of Portland pinned the medal on Ziak, on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. Former Oregon State Senator Betsy Johnson also spoke at the event. She offered a powerful message of peace.


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