This weekend that mystery was compounded by my location. I’d gone to a town in southern Honshu, the main
The next day, I walked from the train station to
Water is a symbol of the suffering of the atomic bomb victims. An estimated 80,000 people died within a few days of the bombing. The lucky ones died without knowing what happened but many, many suffered both thermal and radiation burns. These people, their skin hanging like threads from their bodies, begged for water as they died. The stories of survivors chronicled at the memorial all relate this same horror.
Little Boy, the name given the nuclear device that destroyed Hiroshima, detonated 600 feet above the building that is now the A-Bomb Dome. Everyone in and around the building died, incinerated by the nearly instantaneous rise of 7,000 degrees F generated by the bomb. Most of the remainder of the city was flattened to rubble, but the shell of the A-Bomb Dome remarkably survived and is now preserved. Staring through the framework of the dome at the high rise buildings behind it, I wonder two things: why didn’t they preserve more and why did they rebuild here at all?
I guess I know the answers to both questions. The Japanese are amazingly resilient, as all people can be when they are driven to it. This was their home, the home of their parents and their parents’ parents. That history cannot be discarded. At the same time, the constant reminder of death and destruction does not lend itself to healing. The people needed to move forward. Some would have chosen to preserve nothing to remind them of that day, others warn that such things cannot be forgotten least they be repeated.
A crowd of uniformed schoolchildren passed behind me on a tour of the park. They were laughing, jostling with each other, hardly looking at the dome. Certainly not thinking of the people--possibly their own ancestors—who suffered here. Not thinking that the ground under them was once radioactive. Do these children ever worry that their city might be attacked again one day? Has the threat of nuclear weapons from
I guess a bigger question is has it registered on us? I wish our politicians would all visit the museums of
For more information on the museum and park:
Drawings made by A-bomb survivors:
Photo: The A-Bomb Done
The bridge in the background was the actual target of the bomb.