Handing over an ex Japanese military sword to Reverend Shigenobu Watanbe (right) at the RaHOW ceremony on Anzac Day eve were (l-r) event organisers Margaret Loong, Larisa Barnes and Sabina Baltruweit.Photo by Sho Wakejima.
Handing over an ex Japanese military sword to Reverend Shigenobu Watanbe (right) at the RaHOW ceremony on Anzac Day eve were (l-r) event organisers Margaret Loong, Larisa Barnes and Sabina Baltruweit.Photo by Sho Wakejima.

Healing our war wounds

The Remembering and Healing Old Wounds (RaHOW) events in Lismore over the weekend were a triumph for peace and reconciliation according to one of the organisers, Sabina Baltruweit, who said the turnout at both events exceeded that of last year.

Organisers held two peace ceremonies – one at the Uniting Church on Anzac eve and another in Peace Park on Anzac Day.

Sabina said at the Uniting Church ceremony there was a moving moment when local woman Kerry Reynolds met a man whose own father had served with Kerry’s father in WWII. The man had heard an interview on the local radio with Kerry, who was handing over her father’s old Japanese flag from the war to a Japanese priest, and he decided to attend.

“He came and introduced himself to Kerry and told her his father had served on the ship her father had served on,” Sabina said. “She was really thrilled about it… just to connect and talk about what their fathers went through together was very healing for them both I think. It was a very moving and emotional moment.”

It turns out the man had returned a Japanese sword owned by his father to its country of origin back in 1963 at the signing of the sister city relationship between Lismore and Yamato Takada in Japan.

The Sunday event in Peace Park was also well attended with the unveiling of a special plaque, which was created by Jiggi stonemason Graham Knowles, to mark the park as the event’s permanent home.

Members of the community from a huge variety of ethnic backgrounds placed a flower on the plaque.

“Graham’s donation of his skill as a stonemason was one of many donations for the event, and I think that’s a real expression of the support out there for these peace ceremonies,” Sabina said. “Graham put a lot of effort into finding the right stone and creating this beautiful symbol for us of two peace doves flying off together into the future. It looks wonderful.”

Sabina said she received very positive feedback about how inclusive the event was.

“We wanted to make it meaningful to all Australians, and that means people from many different backgrounds,” Sabina said. “We had people who have migrated here and then we have second generation people who still feel a connection to their ancestral home. We have people who have only recently settled here from war-torn countries whose memories of war are fresh in their minds and people like me whose memories of war are in the past, from their childhood.

“To see all those people together remembering war and making a commitment to peace is incredibly powerful.”


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