Pearl Harbor Day Behind – A Story of Unearned Mercy and Grace

December 7, 2013

72 years ago, “December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, excerpt of speech delivered to Congress on December 8, 1941

Video: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Declaration of War Before Congress

Four years later, General Douglas MacArthur presided over the unconditional surrender of the Empire of Japan aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

Video: Japanese Sign Final Surrender – 1945

“Let us pray that peace has been restored to the world and that God will preserve it, always.” — General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, upon conclusion of surrender ceremony.

Video: Japanese Peace Garden at the Museum of the Pacific Theater of WW2

On May 8, 1976 the Japanese government made a gift of The Garden of Peace and had it situated at the Nimitz Museum.

An inscription says the following:

“The Garden of Peace is a gift to the people of the United States from the people of Japan with prayers for everlasting world peace through the goodwill of our two nations, symbolized by the friendship and respect that existed between Admiral Togo and Admiral Nimitz.”

Garden of Peace at the Nimitz Museum
Garden of Peace at the Nimitz Museum

Appropriately, the Japanese government built the entire peace garden shown above, dismantled it, shipped it to Fredericksburg, Texas and reassembled it “without nails”. Why was this garden given? My understanding is it was a symbol of gratitude that our armed forces treated the Japanese people with kindness and mercy.

General Douglas MacArthur became the de facto Supreme Ruler of Japan from 1945 to 1951, during which time he overhauled the Japanese economy and opened the door to Christian missionaries. MacArthur’s contributions were and are profound. So, where does Nimitz fit in? 

In years leading up to WW2, Chester Nimitz taught at the War College. His chosen “foe” was Japan and he became master of all aspects of Japanese culture, government and warfare. 

The Pacific theater of WW2 was chiefly a naval war over which Nimitz presided. Naturally, while MacArthur oversaw the surrender ceremonies, it was Nimitz that accepted the surrender by Japan and it was Nimitz that became a friend to Japan.

Back to the Garden.

Our nation treated post-war Japan with great benevolence. We did not treat them as they would most assuredly have treated us, had they become victors instead of us.

This is a story of Grace and forgiveness and thus it is important that we view Pearl Harbor Day as such. As Holy Scripture says, Love covers a multitude of sins.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. – 1 John 4:8 KJV

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