Thursday, October 23, 2008
As a teacher of United States history I have taught about this event a few times and have read literature on the subject. Hiroshima is seared into the memory of the world for the terrible event that occurred there at 8:15 on August 6th, 1945. On that day the single largest instantaneous loss of human life occurred killing over 100,000 people in the blink of an eye. Undiscriminating instant death, not to mention the tens of thousands who died in the 24hrs after the blast along with those who suffer latent death and deformity, even today.
There are some very interesting things that occurred because of the bomb, namely human shadows being burned into stone, glass imbedded in rock from the force of the blast, concrete pillars hammer full length into the ground. What followed was unprecedented medical conditions and deaths; hair loss, bleeding of gums, bleeding from all orifices, and numerous arrays of cancer are just a start to the awful power of man. Terrible power demonstrated in an entire city razed.
The Peace Memorial Park, along with the museum that is one the grounds, demonstrates in great detail the power of the bomb and the moral need not to use it. Pictures of victims, burns, flesh hanging, limbs missing, all of this is on full display. Stories of children who suffered latent affects. Normal everyday people who had very little to do with the war that destroyed them. Living here in Japan I have gotten very close to some of the Japanese people around me and like most people I can no longer fathom the enemy that was now that I am in close proximity. Japanese people, then and now, are just like everyone else. They have hopes and dreams, they love their children; they live happy quiet lives. Like most wars those who suffered were those who were ordinary citizens with little reason to fight and die except for the honor or their country.
The point of all this? Well, the bomb was incredibly destructive and has gotten ever more destructive to the point where now nuclear warheads are many times the power of that dropped on Hiroshima. The United States alone has thousands of these warheads. Along with many other countries who have acquired nuclear capabilities. Death waits at any moment for every person within the greater radius of a city (over 75% of the world).
I can’t help but to feel cynical. While a nuclear war has so far been averted, war itself continues. We still kill each other, we still kill innocents, and we still inflict terrible suffering. One has to ask themselves, upon entering Hiroshima, if we have learned a lesson or not. In my mind the answer is no, we have not.