Thursday, April 20, 2017

Give or take TEN THOUSAND.

click to enlarge photos
We did not visit Hiroshima because of the bomb.  We came to Hiroshima to catch the ferry to Miyajima, and Hiroshima is so much more than the bomb.  But, on August 6, 1945, a blinding light signaled detonation 600 meters above Hiroshima, and about 150 meters from the so-called dome, which was just a commercial exhibition hall, much like the places my dad went to for various conventions in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Black and white photographs from 1945 show some other commercial buildings withstood the concussive power and heat blast of 3,000 to 4,000 degrees.  A Shinto gate, and gravestones didn’t budge, either.  

The people of Hiroshima completed demolition of the other buildings and rebuilt this city.  Many city leaders wanted to erase from the map The Dome, too.  Who wants to remember such a tragedy?  221 neighborhoods destroyed, not to mention the people.  Lots of people.  Teenagers, men in their primes, fashionable women, grandmothers and grandfathers.  Children with melted skin who became blind before dying days later in front of their parents, who, in turn died weeks later.  Others believed The Dome should be preserved and, in 1966, enacted a law to do so.

The remembrance expanded to include a Peace Memorial Park, hall, museum, conference center and other monuments.

It is not about fault.  (Pearl Harbor is acknowledged along the way, as is the delivery vehicle, a B29 bomber.)

Instead, it is about conveying “the truth of the tragedy to people around the world and ensure the future generations will learn from the experience.”  (Seeing pictures from Syria in 2017 make me wonder if humankind will ever learn.)

It was an unassuming little monument, which  reminded me of a covered wagon, that forced me to choke down a sob.  A reflecting pond points from it to a flame and toward The Dome, which is a fairly long way off and over the river.  When one stands behind it, the cover frames The Dome.  Under the cover is something like a crypt, but, instead of holding bones, it holds a register of the dead, at least those names that could be figured out.  Public and private records vanished in an instant. 

They figure about 140,000 people died because of the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb as of December 1945, plus or minus 10,000. 

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