October 16, 2007

Codetalkers meet Japanese counterparts

The Navajo Code Talkers Visit HawaiiThe Code Talkers Peace Project began as a proposal to hold a meeting in Hawaii between the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II and their counterparts from the Japanese Imperial Forces, for the purpose of making peace between these former combatants.

The impetus for the Code Talkers Peace Project came from Samuel J. Smith, a Navajo Code Talker, who expressed a desire to meet with his Japanese counterparts to talk about their experiences as opponents in the conflict.

The primary purpose was to get to know each other on a human level and to establish understanding and friendship on a personal level among them and by doing so, contribute toward a more peaceful world.

Smith suggested to the powwow organizers that since the Code Talkers were coming to Hawaii for the powwow, perhaps there would be a way to arrange to have the Japanese come and meet with them in Hawaii. It was such a humble, forthright and profound idea that the powwow organizers immediately set things in motion to make it happen.
The meeting:Each of the principal participants seated around the conference table introduced himself and made a brief statement as to why he had come. Although they were from varied backgrounds and pursuits, all of the principal participants said they came to make peace and to honor each other.

A common conviction that they shared was that each was willing to give his life as his duty to his country, his community and, most importantly, his family. All said that their cultural values of honor, duty and sacrificing for the greater good, played a major part in their voluntarily making their tremendous personal efforts during the war. These same character traits also helped in dealing with, and overcoming the aftermath of battle, and meeting the challenges in their lives since the war.

In retrospect, they had come to realize that in time of war, nations demonize the enemy, characterizing them as evil and inhuman, in order to get their troops to fight with greater fervor. Part of the healing process was to get over this wartime mindset regarding their adversaries. It was only years after the war that these dehumanizing characterizations started to dissipate and they started seeing each other as real people with very similar basic values and concerns.

No comments: