|Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is in the center. I have marked the location of Mum's monument.|
Last Sunday, as nine of us gently unveiled the monument built in her honor and I saw her face, radiant with the gentleness and serenity that had characterized her, I started to weep. I loved her, missed her, and I realized that we finally had a place, a permanent place, to acknowledge and grieve her. I don't know why that mattered but it did.
That place is in the south-east corner of Hiroshima's Peace Park, beside a path which is scheduled to be linked to a footbridge over the nearest river, becoming the main entrance to the park. Bushes separate this area, where there are also monuments to two other foreigners, Norman Cousins and Dr. Marcel Junod, from the flat expanse where the Peace Memorial Museum stands.
For this occasion, microphones were set up in the path in front of the monument. To either side of the microphones, filling the path, were rows of chairs.
|Guests to the right of them. . .|
|. . . guests to the left of them . . .|
There were many speakers--among them, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima; a "specially-appointed" Professor of Hiroshima University; the Director of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation; the reading of a congratulatory telegram from the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture; Ms Mizuhoko Kotani, author of Hiroshima Pilgrimage, a book about my mother; Director of the World Friendship Center Larry Sims; Director of the Peace Memorial Museum Steve Leeper; and Director of the Monument Erecting Committee Hiromu Morishita, who presented certificates to representatives of the stonemasons who carved the monument and the trucking company which delivered it and set it up. (I gave Tony, a trucker, an approving glance when my interpreter murmured that to me.)
|Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima|
|Ms Kotani, author, Hiroshima Pilgrimage|
|Larry and JoAnn Sims, Co-Directors, WFC|
|Hiromu Morishita, President, Monument Erecting Committee|
Mentally reviewing my talk during the night I suspected I might have to fight tears during the delivery so I chose not to wear mascara. I will let you see me crying but I will spare you more than one picture of me reading my speech. I never realized until I saw myself in so many dozens of pictures from so many angles that I need a diet, exercise, a face lift, and serious plastic surgery.
|The eyes of NHK and 3 major newspapers were upon me.|
|Children encircled Tony, Jerry, and me with paper crane leis. . .|
|. . . and filled my arms with flowers.|
I had not read ahead in the program to "Presentation of the folded paper crane Lei and the Bunch of flowers." I was not expecting any of this generosity. I felt as Kate Middleton must have six weeks before, a commoner being treated like royalty.
|Behind us, a choir sang. (This is half of them.)|
|As I feared, I couldn't do justice to interviews in Japanese.|
From the national Asahi Shimbun: “Jessica said, ‘I am so grateful for their desire to erect the monument near the Ground Zero to a woman from America which dropped the atomic bomb. And she stressed ‘Radiation doesn’t distinguish between war and peace. No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more Fukushima!'”
From Hiroshima's Chugoku Shimbun: "Jessica vowed, 'My mother tried to convey the message of hibakusha to the world. From now on, we will try to convey it to the next generation'.”
Lots of reporters and others asked for copies of my speech. Publications in which it will appear include the journal for the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a Mothers for Peace bulletin out of London, and the WFC newsletter. One man who attended said an anime company is considering doing an anime version of my mother's life!
That night at the World Friendship Center two reporters called and left messages. There were six of us--all Americans--there at the time but we let the calls go to voice mail because none of us felt adequate to take a call in Japanese. One of the calls was from Kyodo News Service, Japan's equivalent to our Associated Press. In trying to figure out how to play the messages back so we could copy down the names and phone numbers, we accidentally erased them. So we lost those opportunities.
But as with everything related to this event, it was in God's hands.
*Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream words and music by Ed McCurdy Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war I dreamed I saw a mighty room Filled with women and men And the paper they were signing said They'd never fight again And when the paper was all signed And a million copies made They all joined hands and bowed their heads And grateful pray'rs were prayed And the people in the streets below Were dancing 'round and 'round While swords and guns and uniforms Were scattered on the ground Last night I had the strangest dream I'd never dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war. TRO-©1950,1951 & 1955 Almanac Music, Inc. New York, N.Y. Copyrights renewed Used by permission
Photos by Drew Tanabe/World Friendship Center