My (De'Etta) heart broke at Hiroshima for the nation of Japan - again. Even now, sorting through the pictures and trying to corral thoughts to share - I'm in tears. I've really thought, "I can't write this post," but the purpose of this blog is to capture a slice of our life and what is meaningful to us as a family.
If Dec 7, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy....certainly August 6, 1945 will also live in infamy. We had been told that the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum told the story from the "Japanese perspective." Michael is the son of a WW2 Vet who fought in the Okinawa battles and had his orders to invade the mainland. Michael is a WW2 history buff - focusing on the Pacific Theater. We figured if we needed to add details - we could. We debated if we should take Stacia (7) and Zander (11). In the end we did. I watched carefully and when the younger ones were ready to move on - we did. I sheltered them from some of the more graphic stories on the audio player. They handled it better than us older ones.
Right at the very beginning of the museum there is an excerpt from a woman who writes it was a bright, clear day. All was peaceful as she watched a dragonfly at 8:14 and at 8:15 the world changed. Reading stories of mothers trying to find their children....I was there - March 11, 2001 at 2:46 p.m. separated from my family trying to hear anything from them....My heart raced, I was nauseated and fighting back tears as I read and listened to the stories - I was back in the dark spot in heart, memory, physical response and emotions.
I've wondered...some have said they felt the "same way" when visiting the Holocaust museum.....consider:
- I'm an American - a citizen of the nation which caused this devastation
- I'm a Military Spouse
- I'm a Christian - praying to see the gospel flourish in Japan witnessing evidence of what a Christian nation rained on Japan
- I have lived through a life-changed-in-a-moment experience- separated from my family and wondering if they survived.
I think to have felt the same way at the Holocaust museum you may have to be a German Christian, married to a German Military man with a heart to bring the gospel to the Jewish nation, who had lived through a major disaster separated from family. I'm not discounting the impact of the Holocaust museum - and it has a new level of horror - I know that. Just trying to process why this impacted me so deeply. Yes, it impacted Arielle deeply too. Nolan and Michael are still processing and we've not had long talks about this - but Arielle was in my room and I lived through her dreams and we had time to talk.
We felt Japan did an INCREDIBLE job of telling this story. We felt they were even-handed with the facts.
- They admit they attacked several nations unprovoked - America included
- They admit they were not planning on surrendering if the mainland was invaded
- They admit there were "forced laborers" from Korea, China and the Philippines in Japan
- They admit (which I didn't know) Hiroshima was a military town - a major hub for transport of troops and supplies
- Thousands of children were evacuated due to expected bombing raids and became orphans in a moment
- The effects on this nation go far beyond 1941 - the average survivor is now 78. There were babies born with disabilities due to their mothers being exposed to radiation. These adults are now taken care of by the nation.
- They make good points about the Postdam agreement (though Michael is checking a few facts)
- They make the point they were given no warning about this new type of warfare or a bomb about to be dropped on citizens...they are right.
- I read pages from the Secretary of Defense's dairy and see him raising the same points - and ultimately being ignored.
- Japan must be assured they can keep their Emperor
- Japan must be warned before an atomic bomb is dropped
My conclusions...yes, I know...good things came from the war....and I know that God brings good from all things....but:
- Even justifiable war stinks -nations better make sure they have the heart to FINISH a war they begin - because it's awful!
- America should have warned Japan....it wouldn't have dampened the affect of the bomb...or we could have dropped it in the ocean and said, "We'll drop the next one on a city."
- If only aid had flown in from Christians after this, if only Christians had responded to the call for missionaries...but we didn't...and Japan rebuilt...and now we fault them for their "pride and self-determination"....but a Christian nation....
- Every American I saw go through was impacted....I saw no tears or stark emotions from Japanese....how do they control their emotions so well?
- If onlys are pointless - what would God have us do about any of this NOW - still processing.
- There were some facts wrong about the current nuclear situation (outdated info) and the current role of Misawa Air Base (enough said).
- It is stunning to stand on a spot you've read about in history books for years....
- Hiroshima is a city devoted to peace - apart from Christ there is no lasting peace
I found myself singing a song which became a prayer the very first week I was walking the rice fields around our home. From this song stemmed my heartfelt prayer, "Father, give me your heart for Japan." This is not a prayer to pray lightly.
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Enough words - still processing.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park from inside the museum. This area was demolished...scorched. The trees were donated from around the world to plant.
The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (160 meters from the hypocenter) is the first memorial we reached as we walked from our train stop. This building was completed in April 1915 and captured the fancy of the citizens of Hiroshima with it's green copper dome. The atomic bomb exploded at an altitude of 580 meters 160 meters SE of the hall. All inside were instantly killed. In December 1996 this structure was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as a reminder of the horrors of the atomic bomb and as a symbol of peace. Some have said the building keeps the wound alive and it should have been removed....I think it is good to remember.
|Taken right before I lost it and thus the strange expression|
Cenotaph - Under the arch, beneath the monument are the names of all the known victims. The above plaque is in a fountain to the left of the photo.
This flame is to burn as long as there are nuclear weapons
Read this for full details on the Children's Monument
Children's Peace Monument: Many children died in the bomb. 12 year olds were released from schools to help with demolishing homes in this area to create a fire break. Most were outside when the bomb hit. Many young kids had been evacuated. Older teens were in the military. Many middle school children died this day or in the days to come. This is a memorial to them. Sadako was a young girl who survived the bomb but later developed Leukemia. She believed if she could make 1,000 paper cranes she would live. She died before she finished. This is a statue of her. School children from around the world make paper cranes each year and send them to Hiroshima where they are housed in cases around this monument.
Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound: The park lies along the river. Many came here to try to find relief - their skin was on fire. This was near the hypocenter and so in the days after the bomb many corpses were collected here and cremated. Under this is a cinerarium. The ashes of victims around town have been excavated and buried here.
Peace Bell - This bell is rung by visitors to the park as a way of committing to world peace. It was loud. I was torn as my politics haven't changed...I hate nuclear weapons but I see no purpose in getting rid of them and leaving Pakistan and India with them (and North Korea and Iran racing to own some as well).
Zander and Stacia were unaware of this dilemma and rang it loud
As they rang the bell my thoughts crystallized. There is no peace apart from Christ. I cannot commit to no nukes....I can commit to being willing to do whatever God wants me to do to bring true peace to Japan...and I smashed that puppy - hard. It's my commitment. Japan will live in my heart long after we move...because I prayed for God's heart for Japan in 2009...I can't tell much of the future, but I know Japan will remain in my heart, I will be praying for Japan daily. BTW when everyone around here makes those cheesy peace signs for photos - I will too - with gusto - because I AM committed to the peace of Japan.
Note - we may edit this later with thoughts from Michael and the kids....but I needed to get this "done." My part is finished.
Living all of life before the face of God...