If The J. Peterman Company
Sold Peace Poles
Friendly, admiring Owner's Manual No. 183 parody
Your first Peace Pole sighting
After ten days of bicycling through the Japanese Alps you arrived in Kyoto on the 40th anniversary of D-Day and decided to pay your sightseeing dues by visiting Ryoan-ji Temple. No one was there when you arrived. In an inner courtyard of the rambling complex you found a rectangular expanse of white gravel, thirty yards long and meticulously raked. The solitude did not last. Japanese tourists pounced - swarming schoolchildren, powder-faced women, and dark-suited men one of whom asked, "May I join you?"
Kyoto was the only major Japanese city not destroyed by bombs during the Second World War. As a child he had stood on a hill and watched a sky filled with bombers destroying Osaka.
You asked, "What was it like when the Americans came?"
The man told you that he and his countrymen had been afraid. They had been told Americans were very bad people. "But GIs came and gave us food. And medicine. They were not bad pee-pu. They were very kind. We do not forget this."
It was the strongest unsolicited expression of thanks you'd ever heard a foreigner express toward America. You wanted to hug this man. And you wanted to thank your parents' generation for their mercy.
He told you that now around Japan there are many Peace "Poes." You had never heard of one so it took some explaining, but later, as you peddled your bicycle toward Hiroshima, you knew what it was when you saw your first Peace Pole, and you were moved all over again.
This one can move you again everyday. Copper with a patina that gets a little richer with each rain. Text cut all the way through so that the message can glow at night as though lit from inside by a candle. With Japanese as one of the 160 translations from which to choose for the twelve included languages, this pole stands about 9 ft tall and actually is for sale.
$4,900 includes shipping.
Thanks to Brad Newsham for letting me use his book "All the Right Places" as source material.
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