Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Perspective. It defines how we live and how we view life. Perspective determines who we are and who we choose to be. But it is also the structure of indifferences. When we think about history, we tend to focus on our story, our side. What did we do and what did others do to us. But, like every other story, there is another side. Someone else lived the same experience through different eyes. In order to live a life free of ignorance we have to have the bravery to step back and see life through someone else's perspective. You still may not agree or see eye-to-eye, but at least you took the time to see their perspective and understand how the situation affects them. We had that opportunity today as we journeyed back to significant places in Japan's history.
We began our day with ferry ride to Etajima, a small island off the coast of Hiroshima, for a private tour of the Japanese Naval Academy where, since 1869, Japan's naval officers and midshipmen have received their education. After the beautiful drive through curvy mountainous roads, we were greeted by men in Japanese naval uniforms, who offered the traditional bow. The sight of World War II American veterans and Japanese naval officers not only being in close proximity to one another, but greeting each other with the utmost respect, was a sight that none of us thought we would ever see. During our time at the Academy, we got a brief glimpse into what life as a current member of the Japanese navy looks like as well as seeing various monuments in honor of those who lost their lives during World War II. These naval officers are extremely proud of and loyal to their country, just as our veterans are of our military and country. Visiting the Academy allowed us, as Americans, to realize the part we have played in Japanese history. After the war was over, America helped rebuild Japan which wasn't necessarily something we had to do, but it was the right thing to do.
A return ferry ride across the glistening Pacific water took us back to the “ground zero” of World War II. As we toured the Hiroshima Peace Museum, we sensed the very real pain and hurt that still permeates the once destroyed city. Pleas for future refrain from nuclear weaponry accompanied graphic photos from August 6, 1945 of dying children with seared flesh caused by the atomic blast @ 8:15 am. This victim perspective made us stop and think. Discussion with the veterans in our last gathering tonight also helped us sort through our thoughts and feelings. Though the cost of ending the war in this way was extremely high, it brought about the preservation of both American and Japanese lives. And for that, we give thanks to God and our veterans.
Bryan Cizek, Ciera Carson, Heather Isringhausen, Carissa Westfall, and Christopher Yankey