Thursday, August 06, 2020

Hiroshima: 75 Years

Hiroshima this morning remembers the atomic bomb: "The city set up about 880 seats, less than one-tenth of the usual
number, and scrapped sections allocated for general admission." 

The screen shot above is from a Japanese news story about the commemorative celebrations at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park at 8:15 AM August 6, 2020 (Japan Standard Time). It depicts the preparation of the seating for attendees at the event, which took place at the exact time when the first atomic bomb was dropped, at 8:15 AM August 6, 1945. In a story titled "Hiroshima marks 75th atomic bomb anniversary with call for unity in pandemic" and in the accompanying video, The Japan Times summarized the event, pointing out that the survivors, whose average age is now 83, are becoming a smaller and smaller group (link).

The survivors of the blast, the hibakusha, have always played an important role in envisioning a world without war, especially without nuclear war. Their numbers are now drastically diminished, as discussed in an article in the New York Times today, "Hiroshima 75th Anniversary: Preserving Survivors’ Message of Peace" (link). The widely spaced chairs in the photo tell this story:
"City officials and peace activists had envisioned a series of grand events to commemorate what will most likely be the last major anniversary of the bombing for almost all of the hibakusha (pronounced hee-bak-sha) still living. But the coronavirus forced them to curtail the events, moving conferences on nuclear disarmament online, canceling or postponing related meetings and reducing the number of attendees to around 800, one-tenth of the turnout during a normal year."
I see this image of distanced chairs for survivors of the atomic bomb as a chilling reminder that after a lifetime of anticipation that another nuclear war was always a possible threat to humanity, we -- humanity -- now face a new threat that's not at all what we expected. In recent years, besides the fear of nuclear war, new existential threats to our species and our civilization have captured my imagination and my fears. My horror at actions of the currently disastrous leadership of our country also lead me to some pretty depressing thoughts about alternate fates for humanity. But fear of nuclear war, which in a way haunted my youth, persists.

As an American, I have very complex feelings about World War II and the decision of our leaders to drop the two bombs on Japan, with all the disastrous consequences including 75 more years of living with the existential threat to humanity. If only the world would listen to the mayor of Hiroshima who said, "Hiroshima considers it our duty to build in civil society a consensus that the people of the world must unite to achieve nuclear weapons abolition and lasting world peace."

Blog post by mae sander copyright © 2020, photo as credited.


PerthDailyPhoto said...

I agree Mae, it seems each generation makes disastrous decisions that affect the lives of so many. I, along with the rest of the world hope that #45 is voted out before another, much worse disaster happens ✨

My name is Erika. said...

I think we are very lucky that the Japanese are grateful to us for how we treated their country after the war, and that they didn't dwell on the bombs or let that interfere with the relationship. BUT, that doesn't excuse the bomb. I have mixed feelings also. Life has never been safe, but it seems like as we move forward the unsafe only gets worse. Those survivors have seen so much in their lives, haven't they?

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

Your President worries me, with the power he has to push that button! Hopefully we never forget so that this is never an option for any leader. Shabbat Shalom

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Thank you for this Mae. We are living through this pandemic while having no leadership (or worse than none actually) at the Federal level. I wonder if our county will survive. .....I’m the same age range as those survivors and I’m so sorry that they weren’t able to be honored as they deserve. They and I won’t be around in 25 years. I only hope our world is safe for our descendants by then.

eileeninmd said...


I would like nothing more than to see world peace. There are still certain world leaders including ours that love power, nuclear war and even germ warfare is still possible. I never thought I would be scared living in my own country at this time. Take care, have a happy day and weekend!

Tina said...

Perfect quote by the mayor of Hiroshima. I wonder sometimes if there is any hope for our society. Dolt-45 has certainly fanned the flames of hate during his sorry occupation of our White House.

Jeanie said...

This is a sad, chilling and thought-provoking post, Mae. Having been to the park and to the museum adjacent, one gets a very powerful, overwhelming feeling. I suspect it is much the same as one would experience during a visit to a concentration camp and one I also felt at Anne Frank House. It is frightening to think what could happen in our lifetime -- and in those of our children.