At 8:15 am on August 6th, 1945 America dropped the atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. The results were catacylsmic, devistating- an appropriate adjective perhaps doesn't exist. The destruction was such that Japan may rationally claim to be the only post-apocalypic country on earth.
I went to Nagasaki this winter, but it wasn't quite the same. That trip was a lesson in how life goes on. I wandered that museum amazed that I could see the things I was seeing and still have such incredibly mundane thoughts. Like, "Wow, this is really horrible. People can be so evil. I'm hungry, wonder where we should go for lunch....". It wasn't that it didn't feel real, it just felt... exterior. I could intellectually understand what it should mean to me, but the feeling wasn't there. It was sad and horrible, but at some point detached.
Not so in Hiroshima. Perhaps it has something to do with the level of destruction. The city of Hiroshima was flattened for a 3km radius from the drop site. Flattened. They have preserved one of the few buildings left standing, and it is an awesome sight:
There are thousands of stories of those that survived and those who did not. People burned away until only their shadow remained, korean prisoners of war, junior high school students brought in to work in the factories... too many stories. And it didn't feel sensationalistic or tear-jerking. Instead it was amazing to know that these were more, so many more stories that weren't told.
One of the most famous stories is that of Sadako. She contracted leukimia at 12, having survived the bomb blast at age 2. She heard that if she could fold 1,000 paper cranes, her greatest wish, to survive her cancer, would come true. She completed the 1,000 paper cranes, but her cancer was too advanced and she died. Still many school children in Japan, and all over the world, fold paper cranes and wish for peace.
This is her monument, and some of the paper cranes school children are still sending her:
I'm sure I've depressed you all thoroughly now, but I really felt strongly about all this after coming back from Hiroshima. It concerns me that places like this exist, places that truly show the horrors of humanity and our kindnesses, and yet war and injustice continues. I know it's more complicated than all that, but in the end, is peace really that naive a thing to wish for?
I've thought often about this event and tried to imagine what it must have been like. We should certainly never forget and your images do justice to the memory. Just look up in the sky above your town/city and just try to conceive what nightmare these people experienced...
Very evocative. I've always felt drawn to got to Hiroshima (I actually feel it's a human duty to see this) and this picture aids me in the absence of that trip. It's humbling and daunting to learn of the moments that followed that event and I'll never forget.