Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor

Some thoughts today on the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was a time, over dinner many years ago, that an older friend of mine, a retired naval officer, a graduate of Annapolis and now a successful businessman wanted to talk to one of my sons about attending Annapolis. My friend apparently had both political and military connections and my son had grades sufficient for an application and appointment.

My friend was a good man, a survivor of Pearl Harbor, but he had a powerful hatred for the Japanese. He hated them so much that he took every opportunity in business, in public, and in private to say so. He was a big time successful contractor who built office and factory buildings, but he used no products from Japan.

During our dinner conversation I told him, I hoped he would understand, but he could not talk to my son, unless he could let go of his long-standing hatred of the Japanese. I didn’t want a seventeen year old (at that time) influenced by such a long festering hate.

When you hate you create a bond as powerful as love and it won’t release you from your pain until you consciously let it go. The great teachings of the world suggest that hatred will eventually destroy the hater.

My friend apparently thought about our discussion for several weeks. One day he called to tell me he was going to visit Pearl Harbor…on his way to Japan.

He asked, when he got back could talk to my son. I said “yes”.

As an afterword, my son was not interested in a naval career and went on to be successful in another venue and my friend was able to release a constricting hatred that held him in a cocoon of anger for decades.

As it is with so many acquaintances with which we are blessed in life, I have lost track of my friend and hope that if he is still alive, he passed yesterday’s anniversary of the attack with a peace that only forgiveness can engender.


Lorelei said...

You were a very good friend to this person by acknowleding his "problem" and offering some good advice. Also, as a good father you thought about how that could affect your son. I am glad your friend finally came to terms with his feelings. Althought I can understand since he was there and probably lost a lot of buddies...they say "time heals all wounds"...that was just a wound that took a long time to heal. You helped him heal!!!

I think it is wonderful when I see the ceremony at Pearl Harbor with the vets from both sides together in peace. And your friend has finally found that peace and will always remember you for it.

Anonymous said...

You bring up an interesting dilemma about what to shield our children from. At 17, I would not shield mine from anything, especially someone that had hatred towards a group he was at war with. Our own country instilled those prejudices in him in the process of making him a soldier, no doubt. Or at least reinforced them. It's a good talking point, and offering the opportunity to review prejudice and war and perceptions with any kid over about 12 or so would be something I would encourage, not thwart. My guess is that if you ask your son about it, he was thinking and talking about these issues long before you dropped your shield of protection. If not exposing our offspring at 17, when does one have those discussions? After you tell them about sex? 21 or so? LOL...

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