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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peace...And a Cup of Tea***

(Quotes taken from an article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and a televised report from KHON-TV.)
Copyright ©2011 by Ralph Couey
except the quoted portions as noted above.
*Chicago Tribune
July 29, 2011
as "Peace and a cup of tea"
*Somerset, PA Daily American
July 30, 2011
as "Peace and a cup of tea"
*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 7, 2011
as "A cup of tea"
Shining out of a clear blue sky, the golden sunlight lay gently on the waters, the surface ruffled by the ever-present trade winds. A crowd of 150 people gathered, some clad in traditional kimonos, some in business suits, others in Aloha shirts. In the quiet of the morning, the pure white arches of the Memorial rose above them in peaceful beauty.
An old Japanese man sat before a table and with grace, dignity, and great ceremony, prepared a bowl of tea. He then rose and walked to the end of the room and placed the bowl on an altar and bowed deeply and reverently before a marble wall upon which was etched 1,177 names, the crew of the Battleship Arizona. Below the Memorial, they remain entombed within the hull of their ship which slowly rusts away in the waters of the inlet the native Hawaiians call “Wai Momi.”
We know it as Pearl Harbor.
No one from this hemisphere can possibly overstate the importance of the traditional tea ceremony to the Japanese. It symbolizes harmony, purity, tranquility, and reverence, fundamental elements of that ancient culture. Over the centuries, it has been performed on many occasions, from the celebration of love between a man and a woman, to a moment of peace during war. The ceremony is so revered, so symbolic of peace that even the warrior Samurai left their swords at the door.
The event on July 19th was a ceremony of peace and reconciliation offered by the Japanese people in memory of those who lost their lives on that terrible Day of Infamy. It was the inspiration of former Hawaii First Lady Jean Ariyoshi, wife of former Governor George Ariyoshi. “I had this vision of people getting together, healing together, and honoring the war dead and praying for world peace. There’s no more beautiful place than to do it here.”
The Arizona Memorial is built over the remains of the sunken battleship and has since its inception been a place of reverent pilgrimage for Americans. Moored nearby, another battleship, USS Missouri, the scene of the Japanese surrender, reminds us that every war has two places in common. Where the blood first flowed, and where the killing finally ended.
Some seventy years ago, the world erupted in a global conflict, the bloodiest in human history. The flower of that generation, the young men of the nations who fought, was expended on battlefields ranging from the snow-bound forests of Europe, to the hot trackless sands of the Middle East. From the coral atolls and jungle islands of the Western Pacific, across the seven seas, and in the skies above it all. As wars go, it was a particularly brutal and merciless one. 
The war left deep wounds on both Japan and the United States which survive to this day. Some Americans who were alive then still struggle with their emotions over the memories they carry of that December day so long ago.
Those memories stay with us as well. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, we termed it “this generation’s Pearl Harbor.”
But the ceremony, while remembering and honoring the past, was more about the future; about two nations finding a way to move forward. And two peoples striving to heal their deep wounds with the balm of reconciliation.
The Grand Tea Master who performed the ceremony, a Japanese navy veteran Dr. Genshitsu Sen, said, “My heart is full in this moment.” He spoke of Japan’s most recent disaster as well.
“We had a calamity of earthquakes and the Americans came to help us.
I would truly like to thank you for that assistance.”
Admiral Patrick Walsh, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, stated, 
“Our histories are intertwined with tragedies and triumphs.
 Permanent bridges have been built between us.”
Throughout human history, there has never been a time where peace reigned throughout the world. And yet despite the violence of our past, and the continuing firestorms ignited by our passions today, it is indicative of our heart-felt hope that humanity will one day lay aside the sword once and for all. 
That day will come when we finally realize that our ultimate loyalty lies not to governments, flags, or political ideas; but to each other. 
To the human race.

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