Triumph of the Human Spirit:
Peace Pilgrimages to Memorials and Museums

The 10th International Conference of Museums for Peace

Title: Triumph of the Human Spirit: Peace Pilgrimages to Memorials and Museums

Author: Roy Tamashiro, Professor Emeritus, Webster University (USA)

Abstract: In 2015, fifty years after a traumatic but identity-defining visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, I received a “call” to embark on a “coming-full-circle” peace pilgrimage. The pilgrimage combined an outward journey to museums and memorials that commemorate the darkest events in human history, and an inward journey to the world of mind, consciousness, and the eternal. It was a sacred journey, a quest for self-understanding, wisdom, connectedness and peace. In this paper, I share insights and enduring life lessons from the pilgrimage. The memorials and museums on the pilgrimage included: The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Berlin, Germany); the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Japan); the Sơn Mỹ Memorial Museum (Vietnam); the Jeju 4•3 Peace Park (Republic of Korea); and the Robben Island Museum (Cape Town, South Africa). The exhibits, artifacts, publications, and events at these sites enable us, as visitors, to bear witness to unthinkable human suffering and to the resilience and restorative capacity of the human soul. We become producers of oral histories when we share our experiences with others. We inscribe our lived-experiences and the meanings we make of them onto the historical record. We convey the legacy of bearing witness to the inhuman on one hand, and that of the rise to peace and the triumph of the human spirit on the other, for generations to come.