Monday, August 09, 2010

History, In All It's Shapes and Sizes

Today is a day of anniversaries.

Historically, it is the 65th anniversary of the day the atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, was dropped just outside of Nagasaki, killing nearly 40,000 Japanese. Nearly a week later, Japan's emperor, Hirohito, agreed to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration -- full and unconditional surrender -- which finally led to the end of World War II. The Emperor officially surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur on September 2nd, 1945, closing out a sad chapter in world history that left all of the main players with a mixture of relief and regret for the rest of their lives. It's important to remember this event -- to never forget it and the events that brought it about -- because it is important to remember that there truly is no such thing as "moral war." War is hell, as well it should be, and can never be -- should never be -- sanitized for our protection. (Are you listening, President Obama?)

On a more recent and local historical front, today is the anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate and five others (including her unborn child) in her home on Cielo Drive, by members of the Manson family. I believe this is also an important event to remember, since members of the Manson family who participated in this murder and the subsequent killings of Lino and Rosemary LaBianca seem to think that there should be an expiration date on their penance. To their way of thinking, they've suffered enough after their many long years of imprisonment, and so should be paroled. To which I say... have always said... will always say.... The day the victims climb up out of their graves and start living again, you ladies can get out of prison. Until then, just chill, bitches.

And, finally, on a personal note -- today is the nineteenth anniversary of my mother's death. It was sudden and unexpected, and left us both with many things unsaid. We might never have been able to say them, given her debilitating illness, but it would have been nice to have had the chance to try all the same.

Okay, so maybe these aren't the happiest of anniversaries to contemplate. But I believe all of our history -- the happy and the sad -- can teach us what we need to know to get through our days. If nothing else, these events can teach us that we should never let a day go by without doing our best to connect with each other on a compassionate and personal level. We should take neither peace nor freedom for granted. We should understand that human nature, while capable of the most brilliant displays of love and generosity, can also be capable of inflicting great pain and evil, and we should always be on our guard to prevent it.

Mostly, these events should be a lesson that life is precious and easily vanquished, and no word of love should go unspoken, no act of affection go undone.

So that's the story of this day in history -- histories, personal and public.

Happy August 9th to you all. May it be a day of peace and tranquility.

Photo credits: Nagasaki photo from Life Magazine; Sharon Tate publicity photo; publicity still of Lynn Bailey during rehearsal for "The Starcross Story", photographer unknown.

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