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On Friday, February 23, 2007, a group of 70 wounded U.S. service members and their family members found origami paper cranes waiting for them on their dinner tables when they attended a dinner in their honor at the residence of Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato.

Marine General Robert Magnus (center) Assistant Commandant for Marine Corps joins U.S. wounded service members arriving for dinner

Ambassador Kato and his wife, Hanayo Kato greet Paul Statzer and his Dad, Jim

Lt. Col. Andrew Lourake (USAF ret) shares a moment with service members

Dr. Paul Wolfowitz greets Bruce Dunlap

Sgt. Ron Hawthorne and other service members

In welcoming his guests, Ambassador Kato explained that the cranes are given to the sick and injured as a prayer for their recovery. He said that the wounded service members "carry the burden of service to their country," and he thanked them for their "service to the larger ideals that our two countries represent."

Ambassador Kato said that Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe sent the following message…  “The grateful people of Japan wish each of you health and success in the years ahead, just as we wish for the nation you serve…”

Ambassador Kato ended his greeting by telling the troops that although the two cultures differ, U.S. service members represent Japan’s “samurai spirit.” “Samurais serve with valor, with honor, with loyalty, with respectful, ethical behavior,” he said… “And so have you.”

After the guests enjoyed the food of traditional Japanese fare, Deputy Secretary England said that the Ambassador is a great baseball fan; he has his own museum, he has a great collection of baseballs, “but we have two baseballs for you that will turn into the most prized in your collection.” Deputy Secretary England presented Ambassador Kato with two baseballs with the signatures of every wounded service member in attendance. “This is their way of saying thanks for everything you do, especially this event tonight.” After the baseball presentation, all joined in singing a hearty rendition of “Take me Out to the Ballgame!”

Ambassador Kato presents Deputy Secretary England with a baseball signed by all Japanese officials in attendance

On behalf of the wounded service members, Spc. Maxwell Ramsey made a toast to the Ambassador and said “I share a great enthusiasm and deep gratitude to our Japanese hosts.” “I would like to first thank Ambassador Kato and his wife... not only is this a foreign country inviting us to celebrate with them but they’ve also invited us into their home.” Ramsey ended with a toast to “American troops and Japanese troops that serve in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Top Row: Gordon England, Ayako Ramsey, Spc. Max Ramsey, Paul Wolfowitz, Ambassado Kato and his wife … David Shebib and Mom (First Row)

As the evening wound down, several Japanese Officers began teaching injured service members how to fold origami cranes.

U.S. Army Pfc. Marissa Strock (left), a double-leg amputee wounded in Iraq, and her mother, Sandi Ogden follow Japanese Lt. Col. Ichiro Sato's instructions as they fold origami paper into cranes

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