Thoughts on Hiroshima

I read the book “Hiroshima” in high school, and it affected me enough I went home and wrote a song at the piano.

I don’t remember the song now, or the book, but I was left with a lingering desire to visit Hiroshima.

I loved it.

Not only are there the UNESCO World heritage sites of the Peace Memorial museum and park, the food there was among the best I’ve had in Japan (and that’s saying something) and it’s an exciting, buzzing city of over 1,000,000 people.

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Tempura                                                     Tsukemen                                             Okonomiyaki                                   Cooking in front of customers

What happened on August 6, 1945?

Germany had already surrendered to the Allies on May 8. Japan,however, refused. To avoid a costly invasion of Japan’s mainland, President Truman authorized the first and only use of nuclear weapons-on civilians no less-in history. In Hiroshima, 140,000 people died. In Nagasaki, around 80,000. On August 15, just days after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered.

Most unexpectedly to me upon arrival was the discovery of a clear bias in the museum. Their goal is to get the world to acknowledge the universal inappropriateness of ever using nuclear weapons. There are pictures of presidents from all over the world coming to visit Hiroshima.

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Mother Teresa                

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  The President of Mexico, the President of Vanuatu, and the Pope

But notoriously, no president from the US has ever visited (while in office-Jimmy Carter did as former president). In 2011, Obama broke 66 years of silence by saying he would like to visit and make a move towards reducing worldwide nuclear weapons-but that expression was as far as it’s gotten. No apologies, no wrongdoing. In fact, here’s a shocker: President Bush reduced nuclear warheads by 50%, while Obama has reduced less percentage-wise than any other post-Cold War president at just 10%.

This attitude has not gone unmissed by the Japanese and their clear call at this memorial was a request for the elimination of nuclear warfare. As someone who has a decided pacifist slant, I didn’t need much convincing. I wondered, however, how the message would go over with the average American.

The point that’s most important, I think, is that the suffering is so much greater with atomic weapons, because cancer and other effects from the radiation are felt for generations later. More people actually died in the fire bombing raids of Tokyo, but the devastation with atomic bombs is just so much more lasting, which is why the call for nuclear disarmament is so important.

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Atomic Bomb Dome-where the bomb exploded only 150 meters away

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Ringing the bell for peace

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“Atomic Bombing Was Not Necessary for Ending the War”

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Anti-Nuclear Movements helped prevent their usage in the Korean and Vietnam Wars

 

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The stages one man went through after exposure

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The demand for an apology

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How can something so small wreak so much destruction?

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Three year old Shinichi was out riding his bike when the bomb hit. He died of burns that night. His father couldn’t bear for him to be alone in the grave; so he buried his bike with him. Forty years later, he dug it out again and donated it to the memorial.

Nowhere did I see at the memorial an admission of guilt from Japan: that even after the first Hiroshima bombing, they still did not surrender. In fact, intelligence intercepted from this time was such that Japanese believed there would not be more than one more atomic bomb, and that they could handle that. Essentially, Japan allowed Nagasaki to be bombed, and only thereafter decided to surrender.

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Looking towards the memorial park

I sat on the bench and cried there at the park, because I was sorry it happened, and if it were up to me, yes-the USA would issue a thorough and heartfelt apology. But I am just a woman, and war is a man’s business, created, planned, and executed. A woman’s voice doesn’t matter much on the subject… except with my children. I can raise my children to see that precious, irreplaceable life given or taken in the name of one’s country, the borders of which are invisible and malleable anyway, is not necessary to being an honorable and respectable citizen. I can raise my children to have a nondiscriminatory love of all peoples, nations, and races. I can teach them that governments and leaders can manipulate men’s God-given nature to protect their families into serving a government’s own personal agenda under propaganda-styled catchphrases like “freedom” and “axis of evil.” I can raise them to believe that there is very little in this world worth dying or killing for, but that there’s so much here worth living for. Life is the ultimate gift.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 366 awesome articles for us.

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