Hiroshima – War and Peace

On August 6th 1945, at 8:15 a.m. the world changed for ever. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. There were nearly 400,000 people in the city. Nobody knows exactly how many were killed directly; the official estimate is that by the end of 1945 about 140,000 had died as a result of the bomb.

The city was laid waste, flattened. For a radius of 2700 metres scarcely anything remained standing. Men, women and children died in their tens of thousands, many burned alive by the searing heat of the blast, others shredded by glass blown from windows, still others with their internal organs destroyed by the shockwave.

The Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima are both a memorial to those who died, and a powerful political statement against the possession and use of nuclear weapons.

The devastation of the blast is symbolized by the gutted structure of the Trade and Industry Exhibition Hall, which has been left exactly as it was after the bomb had exploded.

Hiroshima dome 170409

The children who died are commemorated by a sculpture in the Peace Park.

Hiroshima children's sculpture 170409

They are also remembered by a place where visitors, especially children, can leave origami paper cranes. This tradition originates with a little girl named Sadako Sasaki. She suffered from leukaemia as a result of radiation left by the bomb. There was a popular belief that anyone making 1000 paper cranes would have their wish granted and be healed. She tried to make the cranes, but died before she had finished them. Her classmates completed the remainder so that 1000 cranes were buried with her. Since then, people from all over the world have left similar paper cranes in memory of her, and of all the children who died as a result of the bomb.

Cranes fly above the river next to the park.

There is a great bell, which any visitor may toll to affirm their desire for peace and an end to nuclear weapons. The reverberations sound in every corner of the park and maybe in every corner of the world, carried there in the recollections of those who have visited.

There is an eternal flame, which will be kept burning until every nation has forsworn nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima eternal flame 170409

There is a tree, which was half burned away by the blast. Astonishingly, the next year fresh branches sprang from the trunk, and the tree still survives, left there as a symbol of hope.

I have been convinced of the evil of nuclear weapons since my childhood 50 years and more ago. The more I think about the matter, the more strongly I feel that the only solution is to altogether repudiate armed conflict between groups. Anyone who serves in their country’s armed services must obey without question, which means that unscrupulous leaders can unleash war. We know it happens; we have seen it happen in our own lifetime in Iraq.

Please, if you are a man reading this blog, say no to service in the military, and teach your sons and your grandsons to do the same. And if you are a woman, encourage the men in your family to put aside thoughts of military service.

Unless we do this, eventually somebody will use nuclear weapons again, bigger weapons in greater numbers causing incalculably more casualties. And surely we none of us want that.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s