In Japan, on August 6th at 8:15am, we have a moment of silence every year. In the city of Hiroshima, they sound a siren that blazes through the city and people stop to remember the atomic bombing of 1945. It is ingrained in my body to stop and take a moment to reflect on that day. Interestingly, I also do that on December 7th-Pearl Harbor Day. Perhaps that is because I am a Japanese who live in the States and also maybe because in my work as a Japanese actor, I've done many Internment related shows in which I researched and learned a lot about what the Japanese in America went through. I have realized though that this country does not take particular moment on that day.
As I experienced America live through the devastation of September 11th, it occurred to me that this was the first time in their history that civilians were killed on American soil. And though that launched this country in a war, it did not host battles. War came to Japan. Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed and hundred and thousand of civilians died. Our experiences on war were completely different from each other which made the impact of 9.11 even worse because there was no frame of reference. No one had any idea how to process a tragedy of this magnitude. And for that, I felt even more heart broken. America was now forced to join many others who have to commence in an important, yet sad ritual of remember things for years to come.
5 months after 9.11, our theatre did a production of "A Story of Sadako," the only full length play I ever wrote. Its a story of Sadako Sasaki who died of Leukemia as a result of Hiroshima bombing but about 10 years after the fact. This was scheduled to be produced for about a year, but the timing turned out to be interesting. The kids who were in it had an immediate connection to the story because of 9.11. We had countless discussions which helped all of us to process the events past and present, more so than if it had been any other times. One Nation's tragic history connected to another and what we walked away with was "we should never forget."
I was raised by two war survivors with the notion that it is our responsibilities to pass on their stories of survival. And in that same vein, I hope that people of NY who were there that day, and people elsewhere who lost their families and friends will continue to tell their stories and help us remember.
It's the only way to stop it from happening again.