This weekend I traveled to Hiroshima, a place I’ve always wanted to visit for it’s history with my country. I’ve never seen the good in sweeping the ugly past under the rug. History has the ability to teach us. Our generation specifically has thousands of years of history at our fingertips. That gives us a huge advantage to learn from other’s mistakes.
The Peace Museum, found in Peace Park, is an emotional experience, right up there with my visit to the Holocaust museum.
I can’t imagine going about my daily morning routine, on my way to school, when in a flash, everything around me is engulfed in flames and you feel like you’ve entered some horrible dream, only you’re awake. I kept picturing the dream sequence in Terminator 2, when Sarah Conner is at the playground. Suddenly there’s a big flash of light and everything is on fire. I know that scene is nothing compared to the actual horrors of that day, but I remember how much it scared me… The small children, laughing and smiling on the playground, completely unaware of what was coming.
The museum had so many tattered school uniforms. One of the most heart wrenching items I saw was a burnt tricycle…
Back in 4th grade, my class read the story “Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes”. It’s a historical fictional children’s book, based on the life of a young girl named Sadako who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing. When she turned 12, she developed symptoms of leukemia. As her sickness progressed, Sadako began to fold 1000 paper cranes, hoping that they would grant a single wish. These are paper cranes from the real Sadako’s funeral.
Since I’ve been been living here, I’ve been trying to trace back my earliest connection & interest to Japanese culture. I always thought it started in 6th grade when I was obsessed with Pokemon and Sailor Moon. I had completely forgotten about that lesson but it all came flooding back when I saw Sadako’s cranes. Our teacher brought us origami paper and taught us to make cranes after we finished the story. I remember thinking how beautiful the paper was. It was such a special moment to be here nearly 15 years later, seeing these in person.
While the museum brought me to tears, I was uplifted thinking of humanity’s power to persevere. Hiroshima is such a beautiful city, you would never know such a devastating event occurred less than 100 years ago.
I feel very blessed to be an American living in Japan. I am so thankful to have been welcomed by the Japanese people. I have been met with nothing but kindness and have never once felt any animosity for being American. It gives me hope knowing people can heal, forgive, and love one another. I hope one day our great grandchildren will freely travel to places like the middle east, learning from our mistakes, and be met with kindness and understanding.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our Hiroshima trip, the less serious half.