I vividly remember Shozun, my cousin’s husband, telling me about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on his home town of Hiroshima. My father’s family lived on the other side of the mountain from Hiroshima, which shielded them from the atomic bomb explosion that instantly vaporized 66,000 people. Many of my family members died that day and others died later from radiation poisoning.
On that fateful day, Shozun was taking the train from Tokyo back to Hiroshima after work. All of a sudden the train stopped and the doors opened. Everyone disembarked and Shozun, carrying his black briefcase, started walking towards Hiroshima. At the time, he didn’t know that an atomic bomb had destroyed the entire city and 80,000 people at the hypocenter. As he walked through the city, he saw people with melted body parts crying for help and others seeking water in the radiation-filled waterways. He was an engineer and couldn’t understand why the US would drop the atomic bomb on civilians.
When I was 11 years old, I visited Hiroshima for the first time. Walking through the Peace Memorial Museum sent chills through my body as I saw black and white photographs of people burned by the 4,000-degrees Celsius blast. I remember seeing a woman with burns on her face in the shape of a metal grate. As I walked around the Peace Park, I wondered why a human being would engineer an atomic bomb and why President Truman would order the Enola Gay to actually drop them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It’s been 75 years since the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. Not one president or leader in the world has used a nuclear bomb since Truman. Understanding what we know now about nuclear bombs, world leaders have resisted using them because life on this planet is much too delicate to withstand nuclear wars. I hope that we remember the devastation that ensued when the atom bombs were released on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and find peaceful negotiations to solve political and economic problems.