Posted by: patriciamar | January 31, 2019

Hiroshima

This is a sad post.  It also contains soul-wrenching examples of the effects of an atomic bomb. That being said, even if you feel queasy, you should probably read on.  If, thus far in your life, you have been sheltered from learning about this event or events like it, it’s probably time you did.

 

I also feel that it’s important to write, to type out the words–

that people are living– surviving– in war zones around the world right now.  We shouldn’t forget the depths of the atrocities occurring still today.

Now, however, I want to talk about Hiroshima, when one bomb was dropped 500 m above a dense urban zone and 140,000 people were dead, either immediately, or within the month.


When you search for “Hiroshima,” you see the usual Google map, and next to it on the left, one barren image.

I was in Hiroshima in December, which means it took me almost six months to write this post, although I tried on various occasions to finish it.  It so happens that I was in Hiroshima to facilitate an empowerment program at a local high school.  I was nervous, I admit, and the inner discomfort I felt eventually came out in writing, as it usually does for me.  Here is that result, an ESL speech for students about my feelings as an American, visiting Hiroshima for the first time. And my conclusions.


You know that I’m American. This is my first time in Hiroshima and I know what happened during World War II.  I grew up reading about the terrible event that happened and the atomic bomb that my country sent here. I’m very sorry that your grandparents or great grandparents had to experience that.   I was nervous to come here to this city. As a kid, I read stories and in school I learned about what happened. What happened here in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki was a terrible event for the world.  

As I said, I was anxious about visiting Hiroshima.  I thought being here would be very sad.  However, I am very glad that I came here.

I hope you are very proud of your city because it is beautiful. And you- your government and the people of Hiroshima- started again and built a wonderful place.  I thought I would see the effects of such a terrible disaster. I thought it would be a sad and kind of dark place, but it’s not.

Here in Hiroshima, the message is not about the violence.  It’s about peace.

Everywhere I look there are signs of hope and peace and water flowing, and everyone is looking towards the future.”  


In various locations around the city, the historical records make mention of water.  After the bomb was dropped, those who did not die immediately were truly dying of thirst.   It is written that water is a symbol of remembrance for those who died because many victims died while calling out for it.  I didn’t know that.

 

For this reason, there are peace fountains in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, marking the tragedy.

Other historical markers show photographs of the scene following the bomb.  The Inari machi streetcar bridge is one example.  In real life you are looking at a modern bridge crossing safely over the Kyobashi River. In the photograph, the streetcar track is twisted and melted.  There are people under the bridge walking, desperately looking for water.  They are searching for water in the nearly dry river despite the number of bodies there.

Next you visit the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, now called The Atomic Bomb Dome.

And it’s just charred.  It’s blown to shit.  It’s awful.

Most of the city is completely renewed and very beautiful and well-organized.  This monument, so close to the epicenter, was left as it is.  And you really understand at that moment how huge the blast was.

Decisions are made every day that affect the lives and prosperity of people for years after.  This example was a few seconds and then complete destruction.  And around the world we continue to use a massive multitude of weapons as if there is no human face standing below, looking up at the sky.

When you leave the Atomic Dome, you walk along the river through the Peace Memorial Park.  There is a museum with an incredible amount of information about the events that led up to the bombing, the decision making process, and the events that followed during the path to recovery of the Japanese families and their communities.

 

In front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is a fountain.  When you stand in front of the fountain, the water sprays upward simply and beautifully.

 

The fountain cycles through different heights, flying higher and higher and then back down to almost nothing.

It cycles through again and again.

It cycles

through grief.

You can feel the mist on you as you stand in front of it, reminding you of the water that the victims needed but could not find.


“I am very glad that I visited Hiroshima.  Everywhere I looked there were signs of hope and peace, with a constant, fervently hopeful look towards the future.  

Be very proud of yourself and be proud of where you grew up. Hiroshima is impressive.

And like the leaders before you, even if it is difficult, you can do amazing things and achieve great success if you look to the future and work together to achieve your goals.

Living around this beautiful river are kind and friendly people, with good English!  The people here are bubbly and welcoming, and… warm.  There are also delicious lemon sweets, and lemonasco! It’s the first place I found hot sauce in Japan. 
Your city is a really nice place to live.

Perseverance and success are in your genes and in your blood, so I hope that all of you dream big!  I’m sure you can do it!”


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Responses

  1. This is an absolutely beautiful and thoughtful piece of writing, Patricia! I especially appreciate your comments to the empowerment group – so dead-on perfect! One thing I appreciated about the Hiroshima experience is that the museum never sought to point a finger and make me, as an American, feel ashamed (but I did). They did a great job simply stating facts, and keeping the blame game separate. I’d love to see more of this in our political system today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was an excellent museum. I agree. I learned a lot about what happened, but certainly felt terrible and ashamed. I thought the recovery efforts were really unbelievable. There is a radiation research center in Hiroshima as well.

      Thanks for your comment and for reading, Gina!

      Like

  2. Beautiful writing, Patricia. You really brought the emotions through – the whole realm of them. I can see why your students and empowerment participants love and respect you.

    Like

    • Thanks. It’s not an easy topic to discuss, but an experience that is valuable to have.

      Like

  3. I understand how gifted you are with writing skills – I felt like I was there with you … experiencing the city with you. Thank you for sensitively reminding us of how precious life is and how quickly mankind can alter God’s plan.

    Like


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