Friday, August 12, 2005

The 60th Anniversary of V-J Day this Sunday

I would like to bring to the attention of the readership the Remembrance of the Victory over Japan this Sunday morning, August 14th, at the Cenotaph in Central. As this is the 60th anniversary, this will likely be the last time that the veterans of that War that changed the world will participate in such an important commemoration. I will link to Shaky Kaiser's blog for details on the event, which I expect, will be a very moving ceremony.

As one who did not have to live through that war, I will not hold grudges against the Japanese for it, and do not publicize this ceremony to exacerbate anti-Japanese feeling. But at the same time, the suffering endured for the better part of a decade by the largest portion of humanity must be remembered. Those lessons remain important today, and for different reasons for different people. China is the world's rising power, and it is important that as its prosperity grows, it remembers the mistakes made by Germany and Japan, and that its brand of populist nationalism stays under control. For the Japanese, they must accept a special responsibility for their actions in the past, and recognize that as the losers of that great conflict, they cannot be the ones to dictate the teaching of history. I am all for forgiveness, and with time, even forgetfulness from an emotional perspective; but it is not for them to do the forgetting, but rather for them to allow their neighbors to do so.

And for everyone, it is important to mark the date for those who suffered on behalf of all of us. There is an excellent book entitled The Ruins of War: A Guide to Hong Kong's Battlefields and Wartime Sites by Ko Tim Keung and Jason Wordie. They start their book with a stirring dedication inscribed on the Memorial to the Forgotten Army at Kohima that, on the eve of this anniversary, brings a tear to my eye:
When you go home

Tell them this of us and say

For your tomorrow

We gave our today

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