Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Macarthur's Landing Is Re-Enacted Spectacle Draws an Audience of Nearly 12,000 Old Soldiers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Macarthur's Landing Is Re-Enacted Spectacle Draws an Audience of Nearly 12,000 Old Soldiers

Article excerpt

ONE OF WORLD WAR II's most stirring images - Gen. Douglas MacArthur wading onto the battle-strewn beach of this remote town on the island of Leyte - was re-enacted Thursday before nearly 12,000 aging American and Filipino veterans on a last journey of sentimental camaraderie.

The tableau, as painstakingly rehearsed and staged as it was originally by the imperious and publicity-conscious MacArthur, went off dramatically - but with one unrehearsed stumble.

The re-enactment was the climactic highlight of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the U.S. liberation of the Philippines from a three-year Japanese occupation.

The Leyte amphibious landing, which MacArthur planned and commanded, is frequently compared with the June 6 D-Day assault on the beaches of Normandy, France. Both events set the stage for victory for the United States and its allies in the two main theaters of the war.

In the Philippines, the landing was followed two days later by the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the greatest sea battle in history and an unmitigated disaster for the Japanese Imperial Navy. About 4,000 Americans were killed during six months of vicious land, sea and air combat, which saw a desperate Japan introduce the suicidal kamikaze pilots.

Philippine President Fidel Ramos, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led delegations from the two countries that for decades were tightly bound, first by colonialism and later by shared security needs. President Bill Clinton declined to attend, as did Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

"We have to consider the feelings of our own veterans," Japanese diplomat Kiyoshi Takahama said.

The Leyte campaign claimed the lives of more than 56,000 Japanese. Japan was represented at the ceremony by Ambassador Yoshifumi Matsuda, whom Takahama described as "not very comfortable."

Speaking after the re-enactment, which included a fly-by of a vintage U.S. trainer painted to look like a Japanese Zero fighter, Matsuda said: "We Japanese are fully aware that we were directly responsible for the war that was inflicted on the peoples of Asia. …

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