A few days ago I gave a presentation to a large group of seniors, telling about the creation of my Japanese mother’s Cherry Blossoms in Twilight book and hoping to encourage them to share their own stories with their families. All was going well until one woman, with disgust in her voice, loudly said, “What about Pearl Harbor, did you forget about that?” My first ever “heckler,” so to speak. I was not upset or angry, but instead took that opportunity to expound at length about the horrors of war that are wreaked upon all involved.
War is not something that the people of a country vote on. It is decided by government and military leaders who in many countries will brutally smash any opposition or resistance to their views. They may control the media, mislead their people, and otherwise convince or threaten their citizens to believe as they do. I feel so lucky to live in a country where people are free to disagree with their leaders without the fear of being imprisoned, tortured, killed. The United States is filled with immigrants with terrible stories of fleeing an unwanted war to come to a place where they not only can be safe but have the freedom to be.
I believe it is almost a duty for those with war experiences to share some of those stories so that people will always be horrified at what war does to real people. It is easy for many of us to sit back in our recliners and shut off the TV when unpleasant pictures of faraway places are shown. This Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember that war is not some kind of video game, and that families are destroyed in heartwrenching ways. Honor the memories of the war dead and know that everyone suffers in a war.