Memorial Day Thoughts

30 May


Today we specially remember those who served the United States during war, especially those who gave their lives.  War is terrible.  

The way to spread peace through this world is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we share the message of His love and change our own hearts to be more like Him, hate will die out and brotherhood with all will grow. The pure love of Jesus Christ will change the world. Nothing else can. But we who call ourselves Christian must do better. We must live what we profess to believe.

I believe we can remember and honor our Heros without holding onto malice and hate.  I believe we can even admit the mistakes of our leaders without dishonoring the brave soldiers who followed orders and loved their country.
My Grandfather’s brother, Peter Nelson Hansen, was stationed at Del Monte Field in Manilla in 1941.  On the morning of December 8, he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor over the radio.  That evening, Japanese fighter planes attacked Del Monte Field.  

Mothers Day 1942, he and the other American soldiers there were taken prisoners of war. He was a prisoner for 3 ½ years. He was given only rice and water to eat during that time and suffered from beriberi because of malnutrition. He was tortured. When the Marines rescued him on September 9, 1945, he weighed only 120 pounds, about half his normal weight. His legs were shriveled like dry sticks. The doctors told him he would probably never walk again. However, he was eventually able to walk with the use of a cane.  My father described to me how Uncle Pete’s finger tips were disfigured because the Japanese guards had driven bamboo slivers under his fingernails when they tortured him.  

After the end of the war, Peter Hansen was freed from the Japanses prison and spent several months recovering in the hospital.  One week after he was discharged from the army hospital, he left on a mission for the church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) to the Central Pacific Mission.  
He said,

“Yes I have seen the inhumane treatment by the Japanese in their prison camps. It was torturing alright. But, fundamentally, the Japanese people are not bad. They have been brought up wrongly in an atmosphere of regimentation. They need democracy. They need Christianity. They need the restored gospel of the Master as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Then they will be alright.  

A great work lies ahead. I have not hate in my heart towards the Japanese. My desire is to help them. I want to lift them up to the heights I found in that little Japanese Sunday School I visited in Hawaii before the war.”    

Peter Nelson Hansen served 28 months teaching the gospel to Japanese people living in Hawaii in the Central Pacific Mission. Returning home in March 1949, he bore a simple testimony stating his readiness to accept another mission call. Soon after, he was called on another mission, the Far East mission, and served in Japan itself.

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