In times when we need hope and encouragement, we often hear the phrase, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.” This sentiment captures today’s journey on National Geographic Resolution as guests took to learning about the hard realities of conflict and what we can learn as we move toward reconciliation.

The Battle of Okinawa, commonly known as the Typhoon of Steel, lasted 90 days in 1945. The battle claimed 200,000 lives, which are now commemorated on the walls of the Cornerstone of Peace. Overlooking cliffs where many people took their own lives, the site is meant to remember those lost and to serve as a place for reflection and learning.

Not far from the memorial and in the hills of Naha, roughly 20 meters deep, we found the tunnels of the underground Japanese Navy Headquarters. As guests descended the steep staircase and moved down the concrete paths, it was hard to believe that around 4,000 people used this network to hide from opposing forces at the time of the battle. Some of the rooms still bear witness to the grim events that unfolded there, including the room where Vice Admiral Ota took his own life before surrendering to the US.

In the afternoon, National Geographic expert Don George shared about the pilgrimage he took with his wife and father-in-law to honor the people of Okinawa.

The afternoon was all about being in the light. After a short respite, guests followed their passions with voyages on the glass-bottom boat to view underwater life, kayaking in the coastal waters, or visiting the uninhabited island of Gahi to enjoy the scenery above water or explore what the undersea world offers. The journey below water did not disappoint with visions of giant clams, sea snakes, feather stars, sea cucumbers of all shapes and sizes, blue sea stars, and a lionfish all nestled within an astounding diversity of coral. We even spotted a titan triggerfish patrolling to let us know who was in charge. So much biodiversity viewed in just a few hours spoke to the necessity of coral reefs as important ecosystems. It is our responsibility to protect the ecosystems on land and in water, which is a keystone of any Lindblad expedition.

As the Grosvenor Teacher Fellows on this expedition, we would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for this opportunity which was made possible by the partnership between National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. We would like to extend many thanks for the warm welcome and excitement shared with fellow guests and crew. Your passion for travel, education, and the environment is inspiring and meaningful, and we will bring this experience into our classrooms and communities.

Text and photos by Jenna Forslund and Katie Lodes, Grosvenor Teacher Fellows