Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I am so proud of Pauline and Nick. After a hot afternoon of touring the Peace Park, we entered the arena for a student conference. They knew they were signed up to make a "little speech," but they never anticipated an audience of a thousand. I think their hearts skipped a beat.
The day was spent in constant negotiation, as we planned workshops and designated who would attend what...however, with Halle and George Hewitt present, along with Akira Toyama, who attends Trinity in NYC, we had a diplomatic corps of American students to attend various events. I found myself in the role of substitute mother, worrying about when they would eat and sleep. I guess the important thing is that we are all here.
When I stepped off the train at Hiroshima Station, I said to myself, I am "here." When I passed the dome that serves as an unrestored symbol of the city, I said, "I am here." When I saw Mrs. Kodoma, who spoke at St. Luke's last May, I knew I was. I still is difficult to believe that she was born and suffered in this same city, yet here she was, speaking in front of hundreds of young people, strong and resilient, in the same city that had caused her pain. She asked them --- us --- to fight for a better world. She sounded clear...healed...and confident. We are here for a reason.
Nick and Pauline spoke eloquently. They said they shared the same goal for world peace as the Japanese students. America and Russia have 96% of the world's nuclear weapons; therefore, reducing weapons there is a primary goal. They encouraged the audience to sign their petition that they would then take back to Senator Schumer of New York, which the participants seemed to have done en masse. Halle, George, and Akira joined them on stage. Did our American ambassadors look nervous? Not one bit.
Tomorrow, they will attend an all day (and all evening) conference. I will be presenting two major workshops. On Thursday, we'll be participating in the 65th anniversary ceremony, along with the U.N. Secretary General. In the evening, we will be lighting candles that will be floating lanterns along the river.