Posted: Thu February 19, 1998 at 9:30 PM ETCNN/SI correspondent Jim Huber, a member of TNT's broadcast team at the Winter Olympics, is keeping a journal of his time in Nagano and the surrounding area.
NAGANO, Japan (CNN/SI) -- We leave behind our yen. We also leave behind our hearts. And that will be very difficult for at least one American father to understand.
For so very long, he has lived with memories he will not share with anyone, reminders of a long-ago war in the waters off this coast. He would pale in their presence, return within himself to what must have been a very dark time. He would even refuse to sit in a Japanese-made car or watch a Japanese-made television, all of which made it very tough to either transport or entertain him.
When he learned his son was going to cover the Winter Olympics in Japan, he worried for his eldest offspring's safety. Perhaps that he, too, should suffer such darkness in consequence.
The son called, diligently, to talk of the times, the line amazingly clear between here and there.
"How is it?" he asked.
The clarity of the line made the silence deafening.
"Really, Dad, I wish you could be here."
And he sincerely did wish that. To all the fathers from that era who hide the same painful memories.
There can be a no more polite, gracious land on this planet than the one that hosted these Games. I say that having only explored the world insignificantly. But secure in the knowledge that any nicer people would surely live in sainthood.
They bow and smile and mean it. They not only welcome you to their shops and homes, but feed you, give you tea and offer presents as you leave.
Not just one or two establishments but every one I visited.
They have desperately loved being host to the world and have shown that with a zest and enthusiasm that makes those of us headed for New York City and the Goodwill Games this summer shiver in anticipation. While the Japanese have carried their heroes -- a nd they have had many more here than ever expected -- on happy shoulders, they have also cheered the other contestants wildly.
They came into these Games concerned not only about the expectations of their athletes, but the duties of global innkeeper. Barbers sent away for guides on how to cut foreign hair. Police had their normal riot gear replaced with happier-looking yellow an d blue slickers. They struggled valiantly to learn English, everyone seeming to carry several translation dictionaries with them. They were anxious, determined, to impress.
I cannot begin to imagine the horrors of a half-century ago near here.
A war, like almost every other, started by only a few, but fought by many.
"Dad, maybe someday you and I can come back here," the son said long, long distance.
"No, I don't think so. Just come home safely."
Words, he told me, his father had told him a thousand years ago.
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