A WWII sword heads from St.Paul to Nagasaki

Clifton Truman Daniel, left and Orval Ahmdal
President Harry Truman's grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, left and Orval Ahmdal with the Japanese sword that will be returned next weekend.
Photo by Caren Stelson; courtesy of the Saint Paul -- Nagasaki Sister City Committee

A World War II veteran who received a Japanese sword while serving in occupied Japan said he plans to return it to the grandson of the original owner.

Orval Amdahl, 94, of Lanesboro, Minn., was a Marine stationed near Nagasaki after the war. He said there was a warehouse that was packed with swords collected by the U.S. government. Soldiers were given permission to take one home as a souvenir.

"The one I selected was a wooden scabbard covered in leather, and a beautiful sword in it," Amdahl said. "The other three fellows that were with me, they chose brilliant scabbards but the swords in them were not very pretty at all."

The sword had a wooden block with a name and address written on it. For 68 years, Amdahl kept the sword polished and wondered about the real owner.

When author Caren Stelson interviewed Amdahl for a book she's writing about the use of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, he showed her the sword. Stelson, with help from the St. Paul - Nagasaki Sister City Committee and others, tracked down Tadahiro Motomura, the grandson of the sword's original owner.

Next weekend at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, with the grandson of President Harry Truman looking on, Amdahl will return the sword to Motomura.

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"I imagine I could make a little money at it, [if] I needed the money, but I still have the feeling that it should go to its rightful owner," Amdahl said. "To me, I feel like it's a closure and I don't have to worry about anything with the sword anymore -- it will be his responsibility."

Amdahl said returning the sword is meant to be a testament to the fact that people from different countries can live in peace.

"In this world, there is selfishness, greed and I think we can overcome it by realizing that people are alike all over the world, except for a few individuals who want to be the top dog," Amdahl said. "I think the average American, average Japanese, they look upon the other as a friend."

The return of the sword ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 21, at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Visitor Center in St. Paul. Other guests include Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and President Harry Truman's grandson Clifton Truman Daniel.