Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Peace in the goodness of time

Tonight was one of those nights when being a teacher is so rewarding.

Ross Chambless, a former student of mine, has put together an impressive traveling exhibit called "Ceremonies, A Tale of Sister Cities: Matsumoto and Salt Lake." Ross just finished teaching English in Japan for four years in Matsumoto, Salt Lake's sister city. In his spare time he did some work for NPR and started collecting oral histories from the citizens of Matsumoto, which is detailed on his Ceremonies Exhibit blog. Those histories became the basis of the traveling exhibit done in conjunction with the Center for Documentary Arts that's at the Salt Lake City downtown library until August 8. (Photo courtesy of Ross Chambless, http://tinyurl.com/55omyd)

August 6 is the anniversary of the atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. Takashi Hiraoka, mayor of Hiroshima from 1991-1999 addressed a rapt audience at a commemoration at the Salt Lake library this evening. I'm reading John Hersey's Hiroshima with my seniors and now see the event from yet another perspective. And as Mr. Hiraoka spoke, I thought of Roy Okamoto, a former custodian at our school, who lost everything when he was sent to the internment camps in Topaz, Utah. We've come a long way in our relations with the Japanese people. As I later listened to the Amarume Japanese boys and girls choir, I couldn't help thinking of another international peace project that I've been involved with for years, The Ulster Project.

As I finished my conversation with Ross, I was filled with hope about our world. Ross feels like the Sister Cities program helped diminish stereotypes Utahns had about Japanese people; and I feel like things are improving in Northern Ireland because of programs like the Ulster Project. Here's hoping more educational exchanges like these continue.

Finally, a lasting impression from the evening was the legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who I've come to respect even more after I watched Why We Fight. He started the Sister Cities International Program, and his granddaughter, Mary Jean Eisenhower, incidentally is following in his footsteps as president of People to People International. I now think of Eisenhower as one of our greatest presidents. A seasoned military man, here was the tone of his last days in the Oval Office.
Before he left office in January 1961, for his farm in Gettysburg, he urged the necessity of maintaining an adequate military strength, but cautioned that vast, long-continued military expenditures could breed potential dangers to our way of life. He concluded with a prayer for peace "in the goodness of time."

Biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower

1 comment:

Karen McComas said...

What a thrill to see the fruits of your labor emerge in such creative ways! I'm reminded of our conversation earlier this summer about your oral history work and how empowering that must be for many of your students.

Karen