Ask for forgiveness in Hiroshima


To the Editor:
More than 300,000 Japanese — mostly civilians — were killed by the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and a second A-bomb attack on Nagasaki three days later.
Later this week, President Obama will make history by becoming the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima.  By making this trip, he will bring attention to the destruction and suffering caused by nuclear weapons. The president’s visit to Hiroshima will honor the bombing survivors, but also demonstrates American leadership and strength, with a commitment to take steps leading toward a safer world, a world without nuclear weapons.
This visit also offers a crucial opportunity to ask for forgiveness.
In Japan, leaders of a national A-bomb survivors’ group urged Obama to apologize “to the human victims” when he visits the city and to acknowledge that using the weapon was “inhumane and against international law.”
We should all use this time to reflect on the wrongdoings of war and realize that peace is not possible without forgiveness.
All war is immoral. To acknowledge the suffering of the victims and ask for forgiveness is necessary for healing and peace.  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and courage and is a fundamental step towards reconciliation.
Forgiveness is needed in any sort of conflict – within families, the workplace, in politics and across global borders. To know peace, we must recognize that we are all connected and seek to understand.
If Obama truly seeks peace and reconciliation when he visits Hiroshima, he would recognize that both Japan and the United States were responsible for horrific acts in the war and that the only way to end war is to do away the scourge of militarism once and for all.
Sister Anne Martin Phelan,
President, Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton

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