In memoriam

USS Arizona

Memorial Day is always an interesting day for me. I have not blogged my thoughts and feelings about it before, so please allow me to speak on it briefly. Today is the day we in the United States remember those who died in the horrible attack made by Japan on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

At 7:55 am on Sunday, December 7, 1941 the Japanese sent 183 planes to bomb an unsuspecting US Navy fleet. It was this attack that forced our hand, and we joined the tussle in World War II. What you do not not learn from watching the recent movie entitled Pearl Harbor is the other side of the story. In the film, we do not see the vicious racist backlash that took place, nor do we see the grand finale - the atomic leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Did you know that when the US rounded up all the Japanese and forced them to relocate, the original title for these spots was concentration camps? Once Roosevelt learned this is what the Nazis were calling theirs, they were quickly renamed to internment camps. That certainly sounded a lot better, as if the Japanese Americans were being allowed to work internships at summer camp instead of being made into prisoners simply because of their ethnicity.

As you may or may not know, I am half Japanese and was born in Honolulu. My grandfather on my mother's side was in the US Navy during WWII, as a supply officer on a destroyer. My father was born in Japan, but immigrated to the US and served for 30 years as an Air Force pilot. Grandpa, not one to hold a grudge or paint entire people groups with the same brush, used to joke with his more racist Navy buddies, "I have a Japanese pilot in the family!"

So, what is the point of me telling you this? To quote Bertrand Russell, "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." Also, we need to be careful that we do not equate being American with being divinely right. During the current war on terror, let us remember to pray not only for the safe return of our own troops, but for an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people. I won't launch into a theological diatribe here. For more on that, read this article.