It hit me as we travelled along the tramway & got a first glimpse of the dome of the building partly destroyed 70 years ago, after an American B29 bomber carried out the world’s first atomic bombing at 8.15am on August 6th, 1945. Similar to some deeply disturbing video art by Bill Viola that we’d seen earlier in the day, the significance is impossible to ignore and hard to turn away from.
A visit to the Peace Memorial Museum soon after was similarly deeply effecting – the museum was very crowded but the crowd very subdued, the displays outlining the timeframe of the event, and the endless suffering. I only took one photo inside the museum, of a piece of wall containing some of the black rain that occurred as hell rained down.
In the same park was another structure, the Children’s Peace Monument. As with the recently much posted image of the drowned refugee boy it is a sad reminder that the greatest casualties are also the most precious & innocent. “The monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of two. Ten years later Sadako developed leukemia that ultimately ended her life. ”
The inscription on the stone block udner the monument reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in the world.” On the surface of the bell hung inside the monument, the phrases “A Thousand Cranes” and “Peace on the earth and in the Heavens” are carved in the handwriting of Dr Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics.
Here is a short recording of the Children’s Peace Monument bell as it was chimed by people saying a prayer (it was gently raining, so the recording also includes rain on my umbrella)
One has to wonder about the motives and what was actually learned by those with the power to create such horror – apart from the claims of the ‘need’ to end the war, using the atom bomb was a carefully managed experiment, with much (in) humane data collected. An experiment for future reference? Undoubtedly.
At least some attitudes have changed over the years, as this polling indicates – we live in hope, but that hope feels somewhat tenuous when the casualties of current wars wash ashore and little is done to help or prevent such recurring horrors.