Thursday, August 9, 2012
On a warm, sunny day with a welcome breeze off the sea, mourners gathered to remember a horrific event – the atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki 67 years ago.
In the bombing of Nagasaki alone, more than 70,000 were killed and a like number injured.
Today's calm ceremony on Shelter Island in San Diego was a stark contrast to the pain the people of Japan experienced. Survivors from Nagasaki and from Hiroshima, which was bombed three days before, were in attendance.
Akiko Mikamo, president of the humanitarian organization San Diego WISH, said people should take time to remember the victims and learn from the past.
"It's very important to take a day to thank for friendship and peace and remembering the past and history, not for the blame, not for the criticism, but just learning from the past and also not wasting the very valuable lives that were lost,” she said.
Mikamo said the relationship between Japan and the United States is strong, but it takes everyday efforts to strengthen that bond. As a psychologist, she said many fight or disagree with friends and family, but learning to let the negativity go will enhance human beings’ bonds.
“We may have different beliefs and we may fight for the beliefs or values, but (we) could just put that aside,” she said.
Maya Nakanishi, a 2012 London Paralympian, said she feels embraced by the U.S. and is thankful for her opportunities. She lost her right leg in a work accident, which caused her not only physical, but also emotional pain. She in now a track and field athlete for Japan, breaking many records.
"I am living proof of the U.S.-Japan friendship and I am so grateful for their support and cheers,” she said. “Regardless of my nationality, I learned people can’t live alone, the bigger your goal is, the more support you need from many people.”
Port of San Diego Commissioner Bob Nelson said countries can learn to forgive each other like the U.S. and Japan have done.
“Let us hope that our shared experience, the experience of the Japanese people and the people of the United States in having peace and prosperity grow from those terrible events, can help others throughout the world forget the trespasses that they have suffered at the hands of others,” he said.
Eight-year-old Isabella Brown said that knowing individuals from different cultures heightens one’s experience.
“Making friends with people from different cultures is fun and easy, you just need to say hello and the best thing about saying hello to someone you don’t know is that you might make a friend for life,” she said. “A friend who shares their background and culture with you will help you to understand what other people from other cultures and backgrounds go through in our country.”
San Diego WISH started two years ago as a grass roots movement to promote diversity and tolerance.