Friday, August 8, 2014

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial

Hello friends.  I was hoping to get my blog up tonight, but the post I want to write about, getting my port, is too long, so instead I will tell you about what I did this evening.

Steve was asked to film and photograph the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial that was being held by the American Friends Service Committee at 7:30 this evening.  This is not what I would have thought of doing tonight, I was thinking about writing my blog, but Steve asked me to go, so I did.

I took the bus downtown to meet him after I was done with daycare, and we went to grab a bite to eat at Viva Mexico on Washington St.  We both had burritos and water, so it didn't cost much more that a meal from a fast food place, and was a little healthier.

From there, we walked to the little park that looks like the bow of a boat at the conflux of the two rivers near Steeple Street. We were there early, even before the organizer, so I helped set up when she arrived.  We put out twelve brown paper bag luminaries, six along each river.  Other people hung signs on the railings, asking people to remember the two bombings in Japan, sixty nine years ago Wednesday.

There were just a handful of people there, and I had the feeling that most of them had attended this memorial in years past.

We started off by meditating together.  It was a beautiful evening warm and clear, the almost full moon moving slowly across the twilight sky.   I was thinking about Steven, and another friend, who has never seen the man in the moon.  They know the moon so well, they see the craters and even know the names of them. Then, I thought of a friend who is from Japan, and the rice cake rabbit.  I have heard that when you are a child in Japan, you don't see the man in the moon, you see a rabbit.  I wondered if she sees a rabbit, and if her children, who were born in the United States will see a rabbit or a man in the moon.  I wondered how she feels about this holiday, and what she learned about the atomic bombs growing up, and how these things influenced her family, her life.  I always feel a little guilty when I tell her I am taking Victory Day off, because I wonder how she feels about this holiday. I have distance from the meaning of this holiday, like so many that we celebrate, I am just glad for an excuse to take a day off in August.  We never get to talk about how she might feel about this day.  Suddenly it all seems a little closer than it ever did before.

I grew up never knowing anyone from Japan.  I had a Japanese pen pal when I was in Jr. high,  but communication was difficult, so it didn't last long.  I had always been horrified by the bomb and it's aftermath, although growing up, it all seemed like such a distant thing.  I never grew up with stories from the war.  The closest thing I had was my Grandfather patroling the shores of the east coast, where people had to put black out curtains up, listening for the engines of bomber planes.  It never seemed very dangerous or real to me, no matter how exciting he tried to make it sound.

I can't even imagine the horror, the terror, or the fear that people felt that day. All the lives lost, the innocent people, who were just going about their everyday tasks, suddenly gone.  And for what? And all these years later, only a handful of people come out to remember this horrible thing that happened to the world.  And I sadly wonder if we learned anything from it at all.