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It’s never too late to say you are sorry

Ed Jackfert of Wellsburg, W.Va., has received something for which he has been waiting more than half a century – an apology. The gesture will have worldwide significance.

Thousands of Americans due the same apology died before it was offered. No doubt they, along with his remaining comrades in arms from World War II, are very much on Jackfert’s mind.

He was among Americans captured by the Japanese during the war, then forced into slave labor to support that country’s war effort. That was just one of many war crimes committed by the Japanese during World War II.

For decades, no official apology was made by the Japanese to any of the victims of those offenses. That attitude has softened during recent years.

Now, one of the major corporate users of slave labor during the war, the Mitsubishi Materials company, has apologized formally and publicly. Their first stop in this country was at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles last month. They then visited the National American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum, Education and Research Center is located at the Brooke County Public Library in Wellsburg.

Jackfert was the impetus behind the museum and research center. In 2002, he provided a small exhibit of World War II materials for the museum, and suggested more be done along the same lines. Museum Director Mary Kay Wallace embraced the idea.

With help from many volunteers, including quite a few military veterans, the facility has grown to become the acknowledged center for artifacts and documents from World War II in the Philippines.

In the minds of some, no doubt, an apology for something that happened so long ago makes little sense. Nearly all those involved, both as victims and perpetrators, are gone, after all. It is best to leave unpleasant history alone, some say.

But Mitsubishi officials are right in believing they have a duty to apologize to Jackfert and the many, many others who suffered as he did, and worse. It is never too late to say you are sorry.

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