The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and staff at Ipswich experienced several glimpses of God's goodness on Sunday, May 27, 2018. Mr. Shigeaki Mori, and his wife, Kayoko, and the director and producer of a new documentary film, Paper Lanterns, translators, and 2 relatives of the 12 American Airmen who died in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima (August 1945).
Mr. Shigeaki Mori, and his wife, Kayoko, both survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. For over 40 years, he tirelessly researched the last days of these 12 American men. Kayoko, a Notre Dame Alum and a former teacher at one of our schools, wanted to pay tribute to all 12 Sisters of Notre Dame who served in Japan and particularily, Sr. Margaret Loftus and Sr. Mary C. Connelly who are buried in the cemetery on the Ipswich property.
Our Sisters in Japan sent a DVD of Paper Lanterns, documentation and background on the Japanese film festival and asked us to welcome these guests to Ipswich.
When the visitors arrived, they proceeded to the cemetery where the 12 graves were marked with American and Japanese Flags. Mrs. Mori placed two lovely bouquets on her teachers' graves. She spoke lovingly of the impression and the legacy made by her SNDdeN teachers.
Earlier in the day, the Sisters and those staff members who could, had a chance to view the first of several "screenings" of Paper Lanterns. All present were touched by Mr. Mori's story and his dream of reaching out to the lost American airmen and their families.
Many Sisters came by to greet warmly Shigeaki and Kayoko and to meet and express a view or two about their appreciation of Paper Lanterns to Barry Frechette and Peter Girilli (Director and Producer of Paper Lanterns). Our newly met friends shared more stories and some refreshments before departing for dinner.
Insert taken from The Ambassador, Spring 2017¹
In discussing Paper Lanterns with American School in Japan (ASIJ) students, Peter said “War is an historical event when terrible things happen, but in some sense it’s an abstraction. When we hear about 300,000 people dying in Hiroshima, that number is an abstraction—it’s too large and overwhelming for us to comprehend. That’s something that we just cannot understand. When we read history books about war happening and its causes and results, those also may seem to be abstractions. It is important to read history, of course, but for me a much more compelling story is learning about the experiences of individual people in wartime. Everyone suffers in a unique and personal way. Hearing their stories makes war immediate and concrete.”
“There was much debate leading up to President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, and many people in the White House and the American government advised him not to go. For an American President to go to Hiroshima would be seen as America’s apology for dropping the atomic bomb, they feared. But, following a long and complex series of discussions, the President decided to visit Hiroshima. In his historic speech at the Peace Memorial Park, he asked the question ‘Why do we go to Hiroshima?’ And he answers by saying we must try to understand the personal experiences of those who perished there in order not to repeat such a terrible event. President Obama stated that ‘ordinary people can understand this.’ [War] is something that brings horrendous suffering to ordinary people, and it is the ordinary people who suffer much more terribly than the politicians and national leaders who create the war,” Peter told students during the Q&A session.
"For us, an essential audience for this film is young people who may have no prior knowledge of nuclear warfare or the Hiroshima/Nagasaki experience,” he said. “They are the future.”
¹Documentary producer Peter Grilli talks to Matt Wilce about Paper Lanterns, his visit to ASIJ (American School In Japan) and lifelong love of Japanese culture.The Ambassador, Spring 2017, pp. 41-46, p. 46.