We’ve heard about the bomb; we’ve heard about Sadako and the thousand cranes. We’ve read about Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan project, and 109 East Palace. We
know about the end of the war and the nuclear arms debate. But we haven’t seen what happened at Hiroshima itself.
Our group took the bullet train one-and-a-half hours from Osaka to Hiroshima. We took an old streetcar, which was still pulled along the tracks on the street by cables suspended above. And then we were there, at the Atomic Bomb Dome, at the place where modern physics had caused such great destruction.
Before our eyes rose a bold testament to the events of August 6, 1945. Windowless, broken brick walls and the bare frame of a dome showed us what once had been a pioneer
learning facility. Rubble filled the open-air rooms. Standing two stories high, the brick ruins seemed to cry form ages past, mourning the great devastation Hiroshima had suffered. Across from the ruins flowed the river, whose rapidly moving waters had been the refuge of victims burning from the searing heat of the bomb.
And on the opposite shore stood the children’s peace monument featuring a bronze crane and clear cases displaying the thousands of cranes schoolchildren from around the world had folded and mailed in. We were here at Hiroshima, that seemingly foreign city whose destruction ended World War II.
We were standing where the noble characters of John Hersey’s essay “Hiroshima” had once lived and helped suffering victims.
Further into the park we came to the museum, where models, artifacts, and graphic displays demonstrated in depth how great the impact of the atomic bomb had been.
Many students had been outside helping with the war effort at 8:15am when the bomb hit. Although many reached home, they soon died from the effects of the bomb and radiation.
Tattered clothes, disfigured body parts, and images of skin bearing the imprint of the pattern of their clothes clearly depicted the horrors of the bomb. The steps of a bank even bore the shadow of the man who had been sitting there when the radiation of the bomb had killed him, leaving only the impression of his body.
The two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in a total of more than 200,000 deaths. More than 300,000 are estimated to have died Japan’s rape of Nanking in the late 1930s. War brings destruction and pain wherever it goes.