The night of March 16th, 1945 the United States Firebombed Kobe, Japan killing 8,841 people. Another 650,000 were left homeless. These were not soldiers, they were civilians. The old, the young, women and children. I’m not writing this post to start a debate. I will not engage with any comments that say that “It was War”, “We did what we had to do”, “They attacked first,” “We were defending ourselves,” “We saved lives in the long run,” etc. I will not do that. I am only writing this post to remember the dead and those who suffered, and they did suffer, severely.
I am writing this post in the hopes that such things never happen again. I am writing this post because this IS happening again. At this time my nation is engaged in drone warfare that kills innocents including children whom we seem to accept as “collateral damage”. We’re better than this. WE. ARE. BETTER. THAN. THIS. If America is truly the chosen and promised land that I have always been taught that it is then we HAVE to be better than this. My family has had a number of Japanese exchange students live with us over the years. Some have been from Kobe. Maybe this is one reason why this resonates with me so much. When I see these children who suffer I cannot see an enemy, I can only see my own children.
To remember the victims of the Kobe Fire bombings, and to remember all of the senseless victims of war, I want to share a video. Isao Takahata’s masterful 1988 anime film, “Grave of Fireflies” is the story of a brother and sister who survive the firebombing (which kills their mother, leaving them orphans) only to starve to death later. It may be a cartoon, but it is still an important and a powerful film. It is uncomfortable to watch, but it must be watched, it is a story that we must know, it is a story that we cannot allow to happen again.