Thus far, during this crazy year of 2020, all of us around the world, in our own domains and ways, have compiled quite an interesting list of unique experiences. If you had told me in December of last year that this would be a landmark year for Hiroshima, Japan, and maybe even mankind, I certainly would have believed you.
In Japan, all of us - government at all levels, businesses, and individuals alike - were anxiously awaiting the onset of the groundbreaking Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, an event meant to showcase Japan's glistening infrastructure, breathtaking beauty, and trademark hospitality. In addition to continuing to unprecedentedly share these elements with guests from all around the world to an increasingly diversified and progressive Japan, every politician, businessman, man and woman was anticipating a giant boost to the international tourism industry - a kind of launching pad on which the government had worked tirelessly.
Instead, as I write this post today, our borders have been almost completely closed off to the rest of the world for over 7 months, and we, along with the rest of the world, are continuing to struggle and persevere through the difficult, unprecedented times of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Almost all of our plans for this year - whether viewed at a governmental, industry, or even individual level - have necessarily taken hiatuses, been delayed, or even changed completely. Nevertheless, the resolve and perseverance required to navigate this year of unexpected obstacles that we have all observed around the world, as mankind overcomes this incredible challenge and strives to come together, is nothing new for Hiroshima and its residents.
This year's 'Peace Day' festivities, marking the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima City and its residents at the time enduring mankind's first atomic bomb amidst the turmoil of World War II on August 6, 1945, were severely reduced as part of COVID-19 protocol. Nevertheless, this landmark day in human history over 75 years ago continues to shape Hiroshima and its famously compassionate, thoughtful, and welcoming residents to this day, and surely will forever more. Throughout the time that I have been fortunate enough to live in this City and get to know many of its residents, I have gradually realized just how genuine and passionate the people here are. It is clear to me that this is a message clearly resounded by the citizens' overwhelming desire to welcome foreign visitors and new friends from all around the world, eager to share their message of peace and hope for a brighter future.
I hope to share many of my thoughts, experiences, and questions with our growing international community here in the many years to come; however, this felt an appropriate place to start. As, all around Japan and the world, we continue to come together to overcome mankind's immense challenges that remain in the face of the Coronavirus, let us all draw inspiration from Hiroshima and all that it continues to represent everyday. Our hope here is to link the past, present, and future together with the daunting yet rewarding mission of creating the brightest, best global community that we possibly can. Though we are undoubtedly passing through tough times now, if we keep the faith, help each other, and continue forward with kindness and hope, the light will once again find us. If you need any inspiration for this, look no further than the incredible place that I am lucky to call home - Hiroshima.
"In the midst of darkness, light persists."
-- Mahatma Gandhi