Sixty Four years later : Hiroshima and Nagasaki

NBC5.com — Image

This day is a repeat­ing event on my iCal.  The first atom­ic bomb actu­al­ly used in war time was dropped on Hiroshi­ma on August 6th, 1945 killing between 130,000 and 150,000 peo­ple by the end of that year. On August 9th a sec­ond bomb was dropped on Nagasa­ki. I can­not find the words to express my sorrow.

This year 40,000 peo­ple gath­ered at Peace Memo­r­i­al Park.


Peace dec­la­ra­tion by Hiroshi­ma mayor

The Yomi­uri Shimbun

The fol­low­ing is an offi­cial trans­la­tion by the Hiroshi­ma munic­i­pal gov­ern­ment of the text of a speech deliv­ered by Hiroshi­ma May­or Tadatoshi Aki­ba on the occa­sion of the 62nd anniver­sary of the atom­ic bomb­ing of Hiroshima: 

That fate­ful sum­mer, 8:15 a.m. The roar of a B‑29 breaks the morn­ing calm. A para­chute opens in the blue sky. Then sud­den­ly, a flash, an enor­mous blast–silence–hell on Earth. 

The eyes of young girls watch­ing the para­chute were melt­ed. Their faces became giant charred blis­ters. The skin of peo­ple seek­ing help dan­gled from their fin­ger­nails. Their hair stood on end. Their clothes were ripped to shreds. Peo­ple trapped in hous­es top­pled by the blast were burned alive. Oth­ers died when their eye­balls and inter­nal organs burst from their bodies–Hiroshima was a hell where those who some­how sur­vived envied the dead. 

With­in the year, 140,000 had died. Many who escaped death ini­tial­ly are still suf­fer­ing from leukemia, thy­roid can­cer, and a vast array of oth­er afflictions. 

But there was more. Sneered at for their keloid scars, dis­crim­i­nat­ed against in employ­ment and mar­riage, unable to find under­stand­ing for their pro­found emo­tion­al wounds, sur­vivors suf­fered and strug­gled day after day, ques­tion­ing the mean­ing of life. 

And yet, the mes­sage born of that agony is a beam of light now shin­ing the way for the human fam­i­ly. To ensure that “no one else ever suf­fers as we did,” the hibakusha [atom­ic-bomb­ing sur­vivors] have con­tin­u­ous­ly spo­ken of expe­ri­ences they would rather for­get, and we must nev­er for­get their accom­plish­ments in pre­vent­ing a third use of nuclear weapons. 

Despite their best efforts, vast arse­nals of nuclear weapons remain in high states of readiness–deployed or eas­i­ly avail­able. Pro­lif­er­a­tion is gain­ing momen­tum, and the human fam­i­ly still faces the per­il of extinc­tion. This is because a hand­ful of old-fash­ioned lead­ers, cling­ing to an ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry world­view in thrall to the rule of brute strength, are reject­ing glob­al democ­ra­cy, turn­ing their backs on the real­i­ty of the atom­ic bomb­ings and the mes­sage of the hibakusha. 

How­ev­er, here in the 21st cen­tu­ry the time has come when these prob­lems can actu­al­ly be solved through the pow­er of the peo­ple. For­mer colonies have become inde­pen­dent. Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments have tak­en root. Learn­ing the lessons of his­to­ry, peo­ple have cre­at­ed inter­na­tion­al rules pro­hibit­ing attacks on non­com­bat­ants and the use of inhu­mane weapons. They have worked hard to make the Unit­ed Nations an instru­ment for the res­o­lu­tion of inter­na­tion­al dis­putes. And now city gov­ern­ments, enti­ties that have always walked with and shared in the tragedy and pain of their cit­i­zens, are ris­ing up. In the light of human wis­dom, they are lever­ag­ing the voic­es of their cit­i­zens to lift inter­na­tion­al politics. 

Rec­og­niz­ing that “cities suf­fer most from war,” May­ors for Peace, with 1,698 city mem­bers around the world, is active­ly cam­paign­ing to elim­i­nate all nuclear weapons by 2020. 

In Hiroshi­ma, we are con­tin­u­ing our effort to com­mu­ni­cate the A‑bomb expe­ri­ence by hold­ing A‑bomb exhi­bi­tions in 101 cities in the Unit­ed States and facil­i­tat­ing estab­lish­ment of Hiroshi­ma-Nagasa­ki Peace Study Cours­es in uni­ver­si­ties around the world. Amer­i­can may­ors have tak­en the lead in our Cities Are Not Tar­gets project. May­ors in the Czech Repub­lic are oppos­ing the deploy­ment of a mis­sile defense sys­tem. The may­or of Guer­ni­ca-Lumo is call­ing for a resur­gence of moral­i­ty in inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics. The may­or of Ypres is pro­vid­ing an inter­na­tion­al sec­re­tari­at for May­ors for Peace, while oth­er Bel­gian may­ors are con­tribut­ing funds, and many more may­ors around the world are work­ing with their cit­i­zens on pio­neer­ing ini­tia­tives. In Octo­ber this year, at the World Con­gress of Unit­ed Cities and Local Gov­ern­ments, which rep­re­sents the major­i­ty of our plan­et’s pop­u­la­tion, cities will express the will of human­i­ty as we call for the elim­i­na­tion of nuclear weapons. 

The gov­ern­ment of Japan, the world’s only A‑bombed nation, is duty-bound to humbly learn the phi­los­o­phy of the hibakusha along with the facts of the atom­ic bomb­ings and to spread this knowl­edge through the world. At the same time, to abide by inter­na­tion­al law and ful­fill its good-faith oblig­a­tion to press for nuclear weapons abo­li­tion, the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment should take pride in and pro­tect, as is, the Peace Con­sti­tu­tion, while clear­ly say­ing no to obso­lete and mis­tak­en U.S. poli­cies. We fur­ther demand, on behalf of the hibakusha, whose aver­age age now exceeds 74, improved and appro­pri­ate assis­tance, to be extend­ed also to those liv­ing over­seas or exposed in “black rain areas.” 

Six­ty-two years after the atom­ic bomb­ing, we offer today our heart­felt prayers for the peace­ful repose of all its vic­tims and of Itcho Ito, the may­or of Nagasa­ki shot down on his way toward nuclear weapons abo­li­tion. Let us pledge here and now to take all actions required to bequeath to future gen­er­a­tions a nuclear-weapon-free world. 

Tadatoshi Aki­ba

Hiroshi­ma Mayor 

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