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Community Updates: Friday, May 27

The Grand Rapids Public Museum and the OBON Society work together to return a Japanese soldier's "Good Luck Flag" to his family; the City of Grand Rapids approves the use of legal fireworks for the summer holidays (including Juneteenth); and more
McKay Tower reflected in the glass of the PNC Bank building in downtown Grand Rapids

McKay Tower reflected in the glass of the PNC Bank building in downtown Grand Rapids /Ann-Marie Jurek

The Grand Rapids Public Museum and the OBON Society Work Together to Return a Japanese Soldier's "Good Luck Flag" to His Family

Among the thousands of artifacts in the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s collections, there are three WWII-era Yosegaki Hinomaru, also known as "Good Luck Flags." These flags were gifts traditionally given to Japanese soldiers before they left for battle and were usually emblazoned with written messages from the soldier's loved ones. Recently, GRPM has partnered with the OBON Society, an organization dedicated to "advancing reconciliation and healing between families affected by war." The hope is that, through this partnership, these flags can be returned to the families of fallen Japanese soldiers. In the autumn of 2019, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the OBON Society were able to translate one of these flags and return it to the soldier's family. According to Chief Curator Alex Florist of the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

"The GRPM is honored to take care of these important heirlooms. It is our hope that they will be returned to families in Japan who may not have any other tangible connection to their loved ones who were killed in combat."

Another one of these flags was recently translated by volunteers from the OBON Society and the family of the soldier it belonged to has been identified. GRPM is now working to send the flag back to the soldier's niece in Japan. "We are creating a space for people who fought, suffered and grieved because of the war to enter in conversation and have the opportunity for healing and reconciliation," said an OBON Society spokesperson in a Thursday press release. "When news of our work travels around the world, we have witnessed the profound effect it can have on humanity." Photos of the other Yosegaki Hinomaru in GRPM's collection have been given to the OBON Society in the hopes that they will eventually be translated, their families located, and the flags returned home after roughly 75 years on foreign soil.  


The City of Grand Rapids Approves the Use of Legal Fireworks for the Summer Holidays (including Juneteenth)

The discharge of consumer-grade fireworks will be allowed within Grand Rapids city limits in observance of the summer holidays, including Juneteenth, during the following times:

  • Memorial Day (May 28 & 29): 11:00am - 11:45pm
  • Juneteenth (June 19): 11:00am -11:45pm
  • Independence Day (June 29 - July 4): 11:00am - 11:45pm
  • Labor Day (September 3 & 4): 11:00am - 11:45pm

The Grand Rapids Fire Department has encouraged residents to be mindful and take all necessary precations before setting off fireworks. The Grand Rapids Police Department has also asked that residents report any use of illegal fireworks and/or violations of city ordinances (such as fireworks being discharged before or after the set times). 


Also in the News:

  • The Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival will be held on June 10 and June 11 from 11:00am to 11:00pm in downtown Grand Rapids (Calder Plaza). There will be food, entertainment, and various other activites to enjoy. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Foundation's website here.


  • The Grand Rapids City Commission has officially approved the budgets set forth by the FY2023 Plan.  


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