My single regret related to living in Okinawa is that we haven’t traveled as much as I wanted. While many of our neighbors have traveled to Korea, China, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and Indonesia, we have not. The reason? Time and expense, of course, factor into the equation, but so do temperatures (I’m not keen on schlepping a toddler to see temple after temple in high heat and humidity), safety (yes, we’d like to stay away from explosions, but we’d also like to keep our little one–and us–free from intestinal bugs and other environmental hazards), and travel routes (arrive in Thailand at 1 a.m? No thank you.).
This weekend, we will visit Hiroshima, Japan. It is a city known to most as the site the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” was dropped on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 70,000 people. Every American I know who has visited the city has been moved, many citing it as a necessary visit prior to departing Japan. It serves as a reminder of the horrors and devastation of war. More importantly, it serves as a reminder of our humanity and our sameness.
The other week, my neighbor described her visit to Hiroshima with her mother, who was visiting Okinawa for several weeks. I asked whether she felt as if it wasn’t her place to be there. “It’s different being there and being American,” she replied. She continued, “But when we lived in Hawaii, it seemed like a lot, if not most, of the visitors I saw at Pearl Harbor were Japanese.”
It’s good to be reminded of the past. Indeed, how else can we be persuaded to think differently in the future?