I felt hope and healing on the top of Grandmother Lady Le’Ahi (Diamond Head). It was at her summit that I met two young Japanese tourists. They were about my daughter’s age and they were having a great time laughing and playing and taking dozens of selfies with their iPhone cameras.
It felt fundamentally healing to discover so many Japanese visitors on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Fundamentally healing because the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii in 1941, leading the United States of America into World War II.
So here it is 75 years later, and in this memorial place the Americans and the Japanese are now friends. Not only friends, but perhaps something deeper, with countless young Japanese couples choosing to wed on Oahu. Clearly ceremony after ceremony, and dollar after dollar, the love and soul the Japanese have given to Hawaii has been received.
I find it hopeful and healing that two tribes who once fought and killed each other are now playing with and loving one another. I laughed and played with the beautiful Japanese daughters atop Lady Diamond, and felt my namesake, my great uncle Carol, who was killed by Japanese Kamikaze in WWII, laughing and playing alongside us. Surely he, who was only 18 years old at the time, would be delighted to be in the company of these 20 year-old girls and their iPhone cameras.
It was a healing moment. Our WWII generation were taught that the Japanese were our enemy and for my grandmother, that lesson seemed to stick for almost the rest of her life. Like the character in Clint Eastwood’s move, Gran Torino. “They killed my brother,” she would say if the subject came up.
Smiling atop Grandmother Diamond with my new friends, I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. The path we trod to the top was built by soldiers of my tribe to be a look-out for the enemy attack of their tribe. Together we now stood in solidarity beneath the vast blue, blue sky, and the endless blue, blue sea. Reconciliation and wholeness seemed to announce themselves out into the whole world. Holy cow. It felt like healing for the whole world. Two generations later, healing has arrived on her doorstep.
As we approach Memorial Day (May 30), a federal holiday in the United States, and a day to remember the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. I think of my uncle Carol, who it seems has somehow reached across the veil to save my skin once or twice.
I joined the pilgrimage up Grandmother Le’ahi, like a string of ants we moved up and down her round and curvaceous body. I call her Grandmother because she is no longer an active volcano, that was 300,000 years ago, she has long since retired. She shows us a softer side to the wise woman, her banks have grown green, she is no longer a threat, but a safe haven. On her sacred ground I see how brief our lives are in the expanse of time. We are just a blink of an eye in time.
Here it is 75 years later, and our President Obama will be visiting Hiroshima, Japan this month, the first American president to do so since WWII. President Obama is not planning on apologizing for the American decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, which killed 140,000 civilians and severely injured survivors. But apology, pardon, and forgiveness are often what people can do but not necessarily governments. It is a step in the right direction. There is indeed hope for humanity. Two generations later, may healing arrive on her doorstep.