Posts Tagged ‘Ohana’

The following emails exchanged between Charles Pellegrino and myself are posted here to update you on the latest on The Last Train From Hiroshima. The new edition of the book will be published in four foreign countries as of this writing.

Dr. Charlie,

I’m still in Hawaii, had a successful lecture tour and have lost my voice so will return to Sacramento on Tuesday, a quiet person.
Hawaii tends to isolate you from all the ills of the world. Let me hear some good news from you.
Do check my newest blog and maybe it’ll entice to you to think of Hawaii someday to escape from it all.
I’m anxious to know how the foreign printing is going ….
Thinking of you,

Dear Frances:

One of my mentors on my first book (Darwin’s Universe, the book that got me in all that trouble in New Zealand almost thirty years ago) – was Clair Edwin Folsome, one of the people who invented the field of astrobiology, at the University of Hawaii.  And of course, a word that got this family through my work in the ruins of the World Trade Center came from Hawaii – Ohana. There is a second word I hope my children will also strive to live by: Omoiyari.

Tuesday I am on my way to Japan, on special invite. I will be meeting with Steven Leeper ( Dir of Hiroshima Peace Movement)  and several other new friends, and a few old ones. I am, for the first time, attending both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki ceremonies (and I fear I will not be able to keep my eyes dry in either place).

The second edition of the book, with the new story arcs and with the bomber crew perspective on the Hiroshima mission complete, is the version that will go out as all foreign editions.
While in Japan, I will be meeting with more survivors – to whom the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings is of extreme importance, and some are now telling their stories for the first time. Aware that there are biological time-bombs ticking away in the tissues of many of the exposed, they want to get their warnings to the future out because they are not sure they will be around for the 70th anniversary.

So, this week, I begin work on the third edition of a book that is only seven months old. This will be the next English edition – if, in fact, one is allowed. I have heard through a colleague from one of the crewmen on the Hiroshima mission, who has read the first edition, and who is – aside from my error about the Necessary Evil’s flight engineer and a bit of false testimony – approving of how I wrote about the crews and the cities, and agrees with the message that we must use the past as best we can, to teach us that these weapons must never be used – ever again, for any reason.

Omoiyari, Nyokodo, Ohana,

– – Charlie Pellegrino

Dr. Charlie,

Please burn an incense or burn a candle for my Hiroshima ancestors when you are there. I believe all the spirits will embrace you and will end the journey of grief and all will be well hereafter. I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking of you in Hiroshima. Karma, my dear Dr. Charlie. good Karma.

from the land of Ohana, take good care. frances

Dear Frances:

I will burn incense. Are there names of family members that you want written on a floating lantern or spoken.

In Nagasaki the name I will carry with me is Eiko, who is only a very short part of my book, and whose story – a child so badly burned that her mother ran away and abandoned her – that I looked up with tears when I read it in Dr. Nagai’s “We of Nagasaki” and told my oldest daughter I’d just come across something so horrible that I could never put it in a book. Ashley was 14, and she told me that Eiko’s story perhaps more than any other told of the horror of the bomb, and said, “Dad, you must put it in your book.” The children get it more than the adults. They are in many ways smarter, as Masahiro Sasaki has observed, and as I am still learning.

Today, Dr. Nagai’s grandsonson does not know where Eiko’s grave is and does not think anyone knows. He has said he is almost completely unfamiliar with her story, and evidently it was only very rarely spoken about. Certainly, he did not want to talk about it – – another example of the cracks that the atomic bomb makes in the human spirit.

See you later,
– – Charlie P.

Dr. Charlie, if you could say both my parents surnames. Takahashi and Kakugawa, that would be a blessing. Thank you. With Ashley in our next generation, my hope is renewed for the future.Have a safe and beautiful trip.


Dear Frances:

I sent your ancestors’ names out on a floating lantern last night, near the Hiroshima Dome while Yuji Sasaki (Sadako’s nephew) sang his prayer Inori  (now a very popular song here in Japan).  The morning ceremony was not what I expected. As the ringing of the bell approached I was anticipating solemn music from the orchestra; but instead it was a continually and ominously building tone that conveyed the approach of something horrible (they chose music directly reminiscent of Godzilla’s approach to Tokyo, in the original B&W film) – and one of the main images it conveyed for me was the three planes closing in from the west, as the clock ticked down toward 8:15 AM –  and then,  the long seconds of silence as the bomb fell, followed finally by children ringing that huge bell. I knew the names of too many people, and the distances they had been from me, and in which directions, 65 years ago to the moment. One of the most emotionally exhausting moments imaginable.

We must, all of us, do whatever little we can to make sure the world never sees another hypocenter.

None of this has been about the past and who did what to whom, all those years ago. It’s about a future that must be avoided, if we are to have any chance of building a world for tomorrow’s child that is worth having.

– – Charlie P.Dear Frances.


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