Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. and Japanese military and civilian officials observed an annual ceremony dating back to World War II called the Blackened Canteen ceremony.
The ceremony, held on Dec. 6 and announced Thursday by the Pentagon, commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor and the deaths during the American bombing campaign during World War II.
The event involves pouring whiskey from a battered canteen into the waters next to the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona, which was destroyed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Hiroya Sugano was a child at the time and witnessed the ferocious firebombing campaign. He was present for the ceremony.
Fukumatsu Itoh was a devout Buddhist who found the canteen the day after the raid, and began an annual ceremony to honor those who lost their lives during the war.
It begins with a prayer and was followed by pouring bourbon whiskey from the canteen onto the crash site.
Itoh's devout fortitude throughout the years had a great impact on Sugano, who knew him after the war. Before Itoh died, Sugano promised to continue the tradition. It has been conducted since 1972.
"I personally feel that consoling and paying respect to the souls of all of the fallen, regardless of who they are, is the first step toward international reconciliation and world peace," Sugano said in a statement.
"I truly feel that my prayer has been answered."
After the canteen is emptied, flower petals are dropped into the waters representing the lost airmen.
The U.S. firebombing of Japan resulted in the destruction of over 60 Japanese cities, culminating in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.