September 14th, 2016 Japan and South Korea
The last two days have been focused on the inhumanity of war and it's aftermath. In Korea, our tour guide thanked those of us from the western countries who helped create South Korea in the 1950's. Our guide was adamant that it was because of the western countries including the US, that she lives in freedom day. It was hard seeing the devastation after the Korean War and seeing the faces of the starving children and adults. After the Korean War, Korea was the second poorest nation in the world. There was nothing to eat or drink, everything had been destroyed.
We spent a good part of today touring Nagasaki, the peace Memorial Park, The Atomic Bomb Museum, and the Hypocenter of the Atomic Bombing. Even though I knew a lot about this, and had seen many pictures and movies before, there is something about being in Nagaski, at the center of the bombing that sent shivers up my spine.
My Dad was a medic in World War 2, and as a Jewish child, I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. My dad didn't talk about his World War 2 experiences until he was an older man, but as young children we found his war albums, with the piles of dead Jewish & other victims' bodies found as the allies liberated the concentration camps. I grew up knowing the world wasn't a safe place.
My Uncle Gene Henkin was in the South Pacific, and I remember him, too sharing how gruesome his experiences were. One of my earliest memories was of my Uncle Micheal Broady returning home from the Korean War. I remember how thrilled my parents and grandparents were to have him home safely. The wars continue; our Grandson Ron is just back from Afganistan. He was shot in the hand, but he is ok. Still, we are terrified for him.
Standing at Peace Park and viewing the statues built later after the war is humbling. The South Koreans were grateful to the West, but in Japan, how do you you ever forgive 2 atomic bombs being dropped without warning on innocent people? Nagasaki is such a beautiful city, it looks a bit like San Francisco. Of a population of 240,000 on August 9th, 1945, over 73,000 were killed and over 74,000 were injured. The city was devasted. It is a miracle that the earth has renewed itself and that once more people are able to thrive.
Everywhere in Nagasaki is the symbolic paper cranes, the sign of peace. I have friends and family that I love and cherish both in the US and all over the world. Surely, there is something that we can do to bring peace throughout the earth? There must be someway we can bring inhumane acts to an end, and banish war and atomic and all kinds of bombs forever. Every human being deserves the right to peace and prosperity.
I don't want to sound naive, but I'm no longer young and I'm tired of waiting for things to get better. The time to act is now, not tomorrow, not next year. Let's create a better world in our own lifetimes. I'm posting this commentary first and then I'll share pictures from today without comment.