Atomic Bomb Tragedy
On the morning of August 6th, 1945, absolute destruction hit Hiroshima. Japan was in a state of famine, chaos, and destruction due to the war (pre-bomb) but afterwards it was as if none of that matter, as if it never happened. The entire city was obliterated. Not a trace of of anything normal, anything human left in its place despite the inhumane action which wiped the landscape to a bare nothing.
My goal through this post is not to persuade your opinion about this day or war in general to match my own, but rather to give the facts of what actually happened. Before the last two months in Japan, I had little to no background knowledge about this bit of history. In the last two months I read Barefoot Gen and Hiroshima, two books about the tragedy of the bomb. In the last two months, my perspective has been widened and I have been exposed to real, devastating facts. But everything I have learned in the last two months cannot match the connection I felt on the last day I was there.
Immediate Causalities: Hiroshima – 80,000. Nagasaki – 40,000.
This does not include injuries or deaths caused by radiation. (A&E)
The above map shows the areas reached by the bomb in Hiroshima. Today I live in one of the parts around the mid-way of the green circle, and it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the exact location of the bomb dropping, just to give some perspective about how big this weapon is. Keep in mind, this is not even close to the largest atomic bomb humans have created.
Here is a map of Nagasaki…
If you are curious about where I got these images, or what to see it for yourself, click here to visit NUKEMAP.
Check ups on victims of the the bombings are still happening today.
Children in the womb were exposed to radiation.
Leukemia is a common death amongst victims.
Potentially causes deformities and general states on unhealthiness.
(Read more at NY Times.)
Condition of death:
According to Barefoot Gen, Hiroshima, and a woman who was a child during the atrocity, this was the most gruesome way to die. People were melting from the heat and crying for water. Once they had a drink they would often die instantly because that drive for water was the only hope keeping them alive. Many people were crushed by houses or other buildings. The rivers were full of bodies. The chaos was inimaginable.
The last day I was in Hiroshima before coming home for spring break we visited the Peace Park, a memorial for the tragedy and those who suffered. I walk through this area almost everyday and live just minutes from it, but little did I understand how meaningful this park is. On Friday we went through the park with a knowledgeable guide and learned about each monument. Statues stand in memory of those affected, the surviving tree is planted here, the park is just across the river from the one and only building that survived, and several monuments are scattered through the now green park. One piece in particular stood out to me…
Give Back the Human
Give back my father, give back my mother.
Give grandpa back, grandma back.
Give my sons and daughters back.
Give me back myself.
Give back the human race.
As long as this life lasts, this life,
Give back peace
That will never end.
Written and Translated by Miyao Ohaya
Standing in front of this art and reading the poem to myself made me forget everything around me. I forgot about the tour group or the sound of bikes or the sun shining in my eyes or the bitter cold surrounding me. I forgot about the war before the atrocity and the politics behind the decision. This poem is not a radical statement from a political figure, but a real, human emotion from a victim. This person is not blaming anyone, but asking for this to never happen again. The atomic bomb did so much more than end the war, and I am asking you to look at it from a different perspective. Drop the history book and close your eyes. Take a moment to put yourself in the place of the poet. Wouldn’t you ask for the same?
On my last day in Hiroshima this is exactly what I did. The last two months before that final day I looked at the decision in a political manner. In a logical way. I often asked myself, What will end this war? Is this the only way to stop it? At the end of the day, the night before that last Friday, I said to myself, Yes this needed to happen.
In a way I still believe this, after all it is hard to turn off the logical side of the brain. When it comes down to the politics and the options available, yes. However, on this last day I learned the importance of learning from history. I have a better understanding of how “political” decisions can affect the lives of people, how any decision can affect people.
The most important lesson I walked away with on this day was to learn from history and to put yourself in the shoes of others. There is more than two sides to a story, think about all consequences when making decisions, and when you do make a decision, be sure it is an educated one.
Have a new perspective? Please share it below!