“They surrendered, the Japs surrendered,” Dad yelled.
“The war is over,” he added as he came bursting through the dining room door.
It was early August and I was lying on the couch, covered with a blanket and recovering from one of my bouts with tonsillitis.
I wouldn’t start first grade until after Labor Day. None of this starting school in sweltering August business as we have in recent years. In any case, preparing for that next phase of my young life was yet another cause to lift my spirits. Nevertheless, how my throat still hurt!
This 70-year-ago scene came back as if it were yesterday’s news. It was Thursday’s Peace and Justice Commission’s Hiroshima memorial at the Lakeside Park Pavilion last evening.
Our commission is a small group of peacenik folk. Mostly we met once month to talk and, after a local homicide, we conduct a healing of the land service at the crime scene.
But this event drew people from Sophia’s Portico, several peace churches, Catholics, Protestants and me, this lone Unitarian.
It was a perfect setting at this park on the near north side of Fort Wayne. After we all munched on snacks and gulped down lemonade, Teresa issued the call to worship.
She led us in a responsive reading. To the strumming of the guitar of our guest folk singer, our 40 or so crowd sang together the Prayer of Peace.
The first reader reminded us that on August 6 it was the first time the atomic bomb was dropped, killing more than one-hundred thousand people that first day. Thousands more died of radiation in Hiroshima and thousands more a few days later of a second bombing and radiation in Nagasaki.
A second reader reminded us of the continuing wars in the Mideast, Central America and Africa. A third reader called upon divine healing to empower persons in this ancient lands to peacemaking- many countries whose history evokes memories of the great prophets and peacemakers.
To the strumming of our guitarist, we joined together in singing, “O Healing River,” which concludes with “Let the seed of freedom, awake and flourish…”
I left the service with warm feelings and a sense of hope for our community’s developing peace movement. No, we can’t bring back those thousands of lives lost 70 years ago in Japan.
But we can honor their lives. We must work to prevent war. All of us. Indeed, there’s no better way to honor them.