Daughter’s Forgiveness Brings Soldier Peace

An American World War II soldier found peace when he met with the daughter of the Japanese soldier he had killed.

The story ran on 60 Minutes last night, describing the battle on Attu, a remote Aleutian Island. After killing the Japanese soldier during battle, the American soldier realized they had much in common, and felt remorse about what he’d done. He had ongoing nightmares. Decades later, he found the Japanese soldier’s daughter, who lives in California, and asked to meet her. The daughter–who was only 3 months old when her father died–was angry when she first met the man who had killed her father, and didn’t want to have any more contact with him. Ten years after meeting the soldier who killed her father, she received a gift: her father’s Bible. It had been salvaged from the battlefield by another American soldier who sent it to her. She said the Bible gave her strength–implying it’s what compelled her to keep wondering why the soldier had confessed to her, and it’s what helped her realize that he needed forgiveness. So she wrote him a letter and encouraged him to forgive himself. He said he had his first peaceful night’s sleep in decades. The daughter and the aging American soldier became friends.

Somehow this daughter was able to forgive her father’s killer. One test of forgiveness is that you truly want the best for the person who harmed you. She suspected that he was suffering from guilt, and she wanted to relieve him of that. She was the only person who could give him peace, and she had every right to withhold that. Instead, she forgave.