Friday, August 5, 2011

August 6th, 1945: A Day that will live in Infamy by Cindy Sheehan

A Day that will live in Infamy
August 6th 1945
Cindy Sheehan

This will be a short piece, since I am getting ready to go to the anti-nuke/peace rally here in Hiroshima in a few hours (it’s the 6th here), but I will give my impressions of that when I get back to my hotel.

Last night, I dreamed about my grandmother (Mamaw). I haven’t dreamed of her for years. I dreamed she came home to my house and I was going to get to take care of her. My Mamaw was my favorite person in the world until she died in 1969 and her loss hit me, a 12 year-old 7th grader, very hard. My Mamaw was a Rosie the Riveter for the war effort and a survivor of the Great Depression—and while she was so amazingly loving, I thought she must have also been incredibly strong.

I arrived in Japan on Wednesday the 4th and arrived here in Hiroshima on the 5th (by a four hour bullet train ride from Tokyo). Since I arrived here, I have been thinking about the people from “The Greatest Generation” that I have known—because I am here to help the peace community commemorate two of the “Greatest” crimes against humanity perpetrated by the US Government.

I have been thinking how, before I left California for Japan, I got into an argument with a sweet octogenarian that takes water aerobic classes with me at my gym—how she claims that Truman had to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians to “save the lives of US soldiers.” (Same justification used for the demented use of UAVs--Unmanned Aerial Vehicles--in the US's current wars of choice). 

I have been thinking of my now deceased mother, Shirley, who was 10 on the day that Japan attacked a military facility on Pearl Harbor, (an attack that my mother told me FDR knew about and allowed to happen to lift the US out of the “Great” Depression). My mother Shirley had a best-friend named, Shirley (Shirley was a popular name back then due to Shirley Temple)—Shirley Number Two was Nisei a second generation Japanese immigrant to the US. My mother, Shirley, grew up in Hawthorne, California where Japanese immigration was large and my mother picked strawberries on the Japanese farms to earn extra money.

Anyway, one day, after the declaration of war against Japan, my mother’s best friend, Shirley, was gone: sent to an internment camp with her family. My mother never saw her again.

I met an elder last night at a rally against nuclear power that I gave a short speech to who was a fisherman around the Bikini Atolls and who was exposed to radiation—that made me think of my former father-in-law, Frank Sheehan, who was in the Navy during WWII in the Pacific and who worked as a ship fitter on the ships that were part of the Bikini Atoll atomic tests and is still alive, with healthy Sheehan generations of children, grand-children, and great grand-children scattered around him.

Here in Hiroshima, I have been thinking of the Americans and that’s why I dreamt about my grandmother, but I am also thinking of today and our children and grand children.

Shiniki's tricycle
Yesterday, I toured the Peace Museum close to the hypocenter of the bomb, “Little Boy,” and the story, among all the tragic stories, that struck me the most, was the one of  a little boy, Shiniki, a little three year-old who was riding his tricycle 66 years ago today—in an hour and a half, he would be horribly burned by “Little Boy” and die later that night—Shiniki’s heartbroken father buried him and his tricycle in the family’s backyard and that trike is in the Peace Museum: a rusted memorial to man’s profound cruelty to man and the tragic day that my government decided to use a vibrant, living and bustling, town as an experiment of its barbarism.

Then, I can’t help thinking of my own three year-old grandson, Jonah, a happy, healthy cherub and the affect that the Robber Class’s dependence and lust for power and greed is having on his little life.

Sixty-six years ago right now—Hiroshima, indeed the world, had no idea what was about to hit it.

Peace out, for now.

(August 6th, is also the day, six years ago, that I and about 75 other peace activists descended on Crawford, Tx for the first time to confront George Bush so I could ask him, "What Noble Cause." Six years later, and one administration change, the wars continue, with new ones thrown in. Our leaders will never "Give Peace a Chance.")

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