Bush calls anniversary of attack 'day of healing'

December 07, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

ONTARIO, Calif. -- President Bush said yesterday that he wants to turn the 50th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor into a "day of healing" that honors the dead and recognizes that "former enemies are now friends."

Mr. Bush, who will lead commemorative ceremonies today in Hawaii, also said he would condemn the U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II as a tragic and "very shameful chapter" in the nation's history.

As a Navy pilot who was shot down by the Japanese, Mr. Bush is expected to address his own war experiences as well as the future of relations between the United States and Japan during three speeches in Hawaii this morning.

"For me, it will be emotional because, like a lot of those veterans out there, I lost friends, my roommates, two roommates, killed in action off our carrier," Mr. Bush said before he left the White House.

"I think for me and a lot of other Americans of my generation, this is a very emotional time. And this will be a very emotional day tomorrow," he said. "But I also approach it as a day of healing -- appropriately honoring those who died at Pearl Harbor and those who were killed in World War II after Pearl Harbor.

"But also what I want to do is put the focus on the fact that yesterday's enemies in Europe and Asia are now our friends. And a lot of healing has taken place. . . . I go there with no rancor but with the wonderful feeling that things have moved dramatically forward in a very positive way."

Japanese officials have been concerned that the anniversary of the attack would fuel anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States, where resentment over Japan's economic power is already simmering.

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