Pearl Harbor survivor Lt. Col. l Ken Deans greets cadets at St. Thomas Academy during a ceremony where he was honored as alumni of St. Thomas, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Ninety-seven year-old Deans is a 1930 graduate of Saint Thomas Academy, and a recipient of the American Defense Service Medal, Army of Occupation and the WWII Victory medal. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Jerry Holt) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT
In his book “Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima & Beyond: Subversion of Values,” Arch B. Taylor, Jr. asks us to consider the consequences of the American self-image as “innocent victim accomplishing good by overwhelming power." Writing from a Christian Biblical perspective Taylor reminds the reader of the consistent references to God’s will toward a peaceful existence for all people on the Earth.
The book and its message will grow more relevant as we continue to consider our decisions regarding the Middle East conflicts. The concepts of justice, evil, right and wrong change face based on the perspective of the one experiencing it. If a government is to use excessive force to defend its people and their way of life it is justified as an act of protection. However, if a government chooses to use such force as revenge or a show of might and power then there is no justification.
A Memorial Soiled by Secrets
Some Americans find themselves remembering and honoring the fallen at Pearl Harbor today, while silently cursing the possibility that the entire attack might have been avoided if the decision makers would have chosen to use the information gathered to stop the Japanese before they reached Pearl Harbor. Regardless of fact or conjecture, most Americans felt it extreme for their government to bomb Hiroshima and regretful of the event as information about the situation began to unfold.
A Day For Forgiveness
While it is very human to feel a need for revenge, it is also very human to feel just as strongly about forgiveness. Joe Morgan, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, wrote “From Fear To Forgiveness – A Pearl Harbor Attack Survival Story.” He tells us about meeting Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander of the naval forces that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Morgan attended an event in Maui where Captain Fuchida was speaking.
“After he finished, I went up to him and introduced myself as a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack. He bowed politely and said in Japanese, "Gomenasai." (I’m sorry.) Then he said in English, "Please forgive me." He reached out to shake my hand. As our hands touched, all the hatred and animosity toward this man and his country was gone! God had replaced those feelings with forgiveness!”
Forgiveness is a major cornerstone in most spiritual philosophies. Jesus said of those involved in his crucifixion “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus also urges us to forgive constantly in Mark 11:25 "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.” Charles Filmore, author, minister, and co-founder of Unity Church wrote "There is a mental treatment guaranteed to cure every ill that flesh is heir to. Sit for half an hour every night and forgive everyone against whom you have any ill will or antipathy.”
Any human on a true path of spiritual growth will recognize that in remembering the fallen we must also forgive those that participated in the act. Additionally, we must refrain from vengeful acts and know that the only way to stop violence is to break the chain. Love and forgiveness begets love and forgiveness. That is the lesson of December 7, 1941.