Kuniko Katz's essays, articles and letters to the editors

Remembering Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima:  Scarsdale Inquirer, Feb. 2, 1992

To the Editor:

Philip Nobile said at the Scarsdale Village Hall meeting held on Jan. 28 that Scarsdale should apologize for the US government's dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. He told the board that Scarsdale's large Japanese population made it the perfect place to start a grassroots apology movement.

To this, Mayor McCreery and Trustee Schroeder said later that the board would not take any action because it believed that foreign policy is not something upon which a village government should comment. I agree with the board's decision. Although I appreciate Mr. Nobile's sensitive plea, I don't believe that America should apologize for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 1 also feel that any grassroots movement should be initiated without government involvement at any level. How then can we respond to Mr. Nobile's plea? I think I have some answers to this through my recent experience.

On Dec. 8. the day after the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbour, 1 attended a special joint service held at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church. In his sermon, Dr. Robert MacLennan, the pastor, told us that "we gather here to remember the so‑called day of infamy and to work toward the day of harmony." The Rev. Yuri Ando of the Japanese Union Church wrote in a statement of intention that "we are gathered here to mourn for those who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbour 50 years ago. We gather to remember and feel the pain of those who were killed and wounded by our country's military power in Asia during the course of Japanese aggression which led to the Second World War."

After the service, I spoke to a number of Japanese who attended. They all felt grateful to be invited to mourn with their American friends and neighbours. "Until this year," one of them said, "the anniversary of Pearl Harbor was a day to be remembered by Americans, but for the Japanese, this was a day to feel very uncomfortable." "However," she said, "by mourning with the Americans, the day became mine to remember too."

She said that if more Japanese felt that way, Dec. 7 could eventually become a day to be commemorated jointly in the US and Japan. She said that only then could the Japanese ask Americans to pray with them for the souls of the people who were killed in the bombings.

Every year during the Jewish high holy days, prayers are said in memory of all those who died in past wars, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By attending the joint service, I thought that Hitchcock Church's invitation to the Japanese community was another step toward the beginning of a grassroots movement to let Japanese and Americans share their pain together.

From this experience, I believe that what is important is not a one‑time apology by the government but that we all remember what happened on Dec. 7, 1941, in the US and Aug. 6 and 14, 1945, in Japan. By remembering and commemorating the days together, we can make sure that both countries will never repeat their actions.

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