Friday, March 09, 2007

hiroshima

This week I read John Hersey's classic book Hiroshima, which details the dropping of the atomic bomb Little Boy on that Japanese city on August 6, 1945, and the suffering that followed. The depiction in this passage stands out in my mind the most vividly:
On his way back with the water, [Father Kleinsorge] got lost on a detour around a fallen tree, and as he looked for his way through the woods, he heard a voice ask from the underbrush, "Have you anything to drink?" He saw a uniform. Thinking there was just one soldier, he approached with the water. When he had penetrated the bushes, he saw there were about twenty men, and they were all in exactly the same nightmarish state: their faces wholly burned, their eyesockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks. (p.51)

5 comments:

Carol Herdien said...

Sent this message early, but see that it didn't get on. ??? Will try again.

I recall so clearly hearing on that day about the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was 14, and I asked my parents -- what is it? What is an atomic bomb? What does it mean? They didn't know either until the newspapers became more specific. For several years afterwards, my father always accredited the atomic bomb to all beautiful sunsets and blamed all bad weather on the Bomb. "It's the Bomb" he would say, "It's the Bomb." President Truman, just new to the presidency on April 12, had to make that decision, but the plans had been in the works for several years. But Truman as vice president was kept in the dark. In those days, secrets could be kept. Was it the right thing to do? It seemed so at the time, but then the terrible stories came to us about the suffering of the Japanese citizens. When the H-Bomb was born it made the atomic bomb seem like a firecracker, and people began to fear what science had reaped. Then our country -- which we always felt was unconquerable -- began an era of fear, which culminated in the 60s era of fright, paranoia, doubt and fallout shelters.

Carol

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for sharing carol. wow, what it must have been like to live during that time.

yes, its no easy task to try to figure out the rights and wrongs of bombs, war, etc.

pray for peace.

bandlady said...

I visited Hiroshima in 2003. It was the most powerful experience I have ever encountered. The tour guide said that the ruins and ashes of what was left of the city was so enormous that they couldn't truck it off to a landfill. Instead, they had to rebuild on top of everything. Her next statement was:

"You are walking on the ashes of the citizens of Hiroshima."

Humbling.

Larry B said...

I too have been to Hiroshima about ten years ago and went to the peace museum and saw the real effects. The devastation was most certainly horrific and it was eerie to think that I, an American, was standing in their city looking at the record of what had happened.

What was admirable to me though was that there was a concerted effort on the part of the people there to ignore any sense of blame or anger and redirect the overwhelming sense of tragedy that anyone would get walking through that museum towards an impetus for peace and reconciliation for all nations. That is what they told me why they had the museum for, to remind us all of the importance of the quest for peace, not to lay blame and forment anger. I was most humbled by their perspective.

bandlady said...

I agree--I was amazed at the incredible outpouring of kindness and forgiveness of the Japanese people with regard to the atomic bomb. They have made great efforts to put their personal anguish into positive action. Every year the mayor of Hiroshima writes pleas to all the nuclear capable nations, asking them to disarm.