Sixty-two years ago they were bitter enemies — one a Japanese pilot trained to crash his plane into U.S. ships on a suicide mission, the other two survivors of a ship sunk by one of the pilot’s kamikaze comrades.
But on Friday the three now elderly men shook hands and blinked back tears during a meeting that the former U.S. servicemen said finally helped them come to terms with their traumatic past.
“You feel terrible towards the people who did this to you and as the years go on and we get older, it’s a terrible burden to carry,” said Fred Mitchell, an 81-year-old survivor of the U.S.S. Drexler, a destroyer sunk by kamikaze off Okinawa in 1945. “My dream has come true,” Mitchell said, his voice shaking. “When I go back I can live in peace for the rest of my life.” (read full article)
I was a 14 year old American walking the streets of Obama, Japan late at night by myself without a fear in the world. Even as a kid the moment was surreal imagining how different it would have been to do so sixty years before. It was easy for me and my exchange student counterparts to become friends. We weren’t there; we only heard stories. It’s encouraging to see those most impacted by the war come to peace with themselves and their enemies. I wonder if it is possible that in my lifetime we will see Palestinians shake hands with Israelis? Will we see Sunni, Shi’ite, and Kurds sit down together in peace? Is it really too much to hope?