One of the projects that Forever Redwood takes the most pride in is our commission to create two public benches for the Attu Interpretative Site on Attu Island, Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had recently created a commemorative site for this historic battle and our company was chosen to provide the benches visitors use to rest, admire the landscape, and contemplate the history of the island.
Before World War 2, Attu was a peaceful, isolated island with a small population of indigenous Aleutians living there. However, because of its strategic location for military maneuvers, the island was invaded by the Japanese Imperial Army on June 7th, 1942. Knowing that having the Japanese military occupying such crucial land was a major threat, the U.S. Army sent in troops to repel the Japanese and recapture the island on May 11th, 1943. Unfortunately, the Japanese had become so entrenched by this point, the Americans were forced to launch arduous attacks in Arctic, below-freezing weather, leading many troops to die of cold and exposure. In a true show of American grit, however, the soldiers continued their onslaught on the Japanese until finally the Imperial Army was forced back to a small enclave in Chichagof Harbor.
The Japanese had received news of this approaching recapture of Attu and were assembling a large naval fleet to turn back the Americans and regain the island. However, before they could depart, the Americans had already won. Colonel Yamasaki, the commanding officer of the Japanese troops on Attu, saw that he and his men would soon become overwhelmed. Rather than face capture—a huge humiliation in the eyes of an Imperial Japanese soldier—on the 29th of May Yamasaki and his men launched a surprise Banzai charge, a tactic with a suicidal intention, on American front lines, engaging U.S. troops in bloody and intense hand-to-hand combat. By the end of this battle, out of 2,900 Japanese troops, only 29 men were left alive to be captured. While U.S. forces were about 5 times as large, there were also 549 lost American lives by the end of the violence.
The carnage and bloodshed of those few weeks left huge scars on the island, both on the natural landscape and in shattered and burned buildings. The island was no longer the peaceful home of Aleutian families, who had all fled, but an abandoned and broken place that was a sad reminder of the costs of war.
The interpretive site is meant to be a place to reflect on these costs and the sacrifice and valor of the troops during the war. We at Forever Redwood were honored to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service choose and design a set of sturdy, comfortable benches that were appropriate for the landscape and could endure years of Arctic winters and other harsh weather conditions.
One of the great things about having our own workshops and designers is that it allows us to help our clients create custom projects like this one. From our bench that was used as a gift of friendship between the Chinese and American governments, to our Brachiation Ladders that are recommended by Brain Balance Centers of America, we are proud to use our skills to create products that serve a greater purpose.