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Aug 09

Ten (and sixty) years after

Then & Now
August 6, 1995

Witness
by Manuel L. Quezon III

I am become Death, the detroyer of worlds.
-From the :Bhagavad Gita”

HIROKO Nakamura was five months old when an atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. She was two kilometers away from ground zero. Her father was even closer -downtown with some friends. Her eldest brother was close, too; working in a Mitsubishi factory. One of her sisters was in school.

When the bomb detonated, her father was buried by the rubble from a building that collapsed. He cried out for help, but no one came to help. Eventually he managed to dig himself out. All his friends were missing. Later on, it turned out that they had all been killed. He made his way home, to look for his family.

Hiroko’s brother somehow made it home, too. But her sister was missing. Her father went out to look for her, and discovered that the school building had collapsed. Again, somehow, he found his daughter. Wen the bomb exploded, she had, instinctively, covered her eyes, but she was nearly blinded, and was terribly burned. He took her home and cared for her as best he could. There were no medicines, no water. The river that ran through Hiroshima was full of the corpses of the dead who had, in their agony, sought relief inits waters. And its banks were lined with the horribly disfigured, many of whom were dying.

When Hiroko and the rest of her family were evacuated from the ruined city, her father and edlest brother stayed. They wanted to help those left behind, and get on with the task of rebuilding. They rebuilt their home, they fed themselves by growing vegetables. They managed as best as they could, all the while unaware of the poisoned ground exuding radiation beneath them. For neither they nor anyone else knew about radiation or its effects on human tissue. And neither they nor anyone else knew that the atomic bomb, which had killed or wounded nearly 150,000 people -literally in the twinkling of an eye- would continue killing through the years, taking its toll among those who had considered themselves fortunate for having survived the blast.

The Nakamura family -10 of them altogether- were a fortunate family. They all survived the dropping of the atomic bomb. They bear the distinction of being one of the few families to have lived through the second Holocaust -for the death of a city by nuclear fission is the closest man has come to seeing what God’s wrath is truly like.

The Nakamuras lived in their reconstructed home for 10 years. They went on with their lives. Hiroko’s father lived to the ripe old age of 81, finally succumbing to lung cancer. The other members of her family who have died also succumbed to cancer. It is chilling to note that Hiroko cannot say if her father, or the others who died, died of cancer because of the effects of the bomb or not. Even at the end of their lives, members of the Nakamura family remain haunted by what happened on August 6, 1945.

Hiroko herself eventually married an American, J. Marsh Thomson, and came to live in the Philippines. She is an accomplished artist, a painter. Her husband is a businessman, one of the prime movers behind College Assurance Plans. He is also involved in civic work. They have three children: Julia, the eldest; Joshua, their only son; and their youngest, Akiko, who as an athlete proudly represents the Philippines in sports events.

It has been fifty years to the day since Hiroshima was bombed. While Hiroko has found peace, and happiness, in her heart, one fervent wish still burns. That no other people on earth should have to go through what the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced.

When you clap and cheer for Akiko,remember her mother. Out of the rubble springs new life, and generations beget new generations; but the pain and the horror must be remembered, lest the young shed the same tears that their elders did.

Hiroko bears witness to a great tragedy -and the nobility of those who survived, and demonstrated that the things that make humans good are the things that prevail. She has taught her children that; and all who have met her.

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  1. gari

    a fitting remembrance
    to the horror that was
    hiroshima…more than
    the paper cranes and
    the peace symbols…
    hopefully there will
    never be another hiroshima
    in our lifetime and beyond.

  2. taipan88

    sir mlq3, I posted this in my blog. I’d like to share it with you and your readers as well with the hope that this evil come to a stop.

    ————

    NO MORE HIROSHIMA!!!!

    The date:August 6,1945:
    Target:HIROSHIMA

    SIXTY-YEARS YEARS AGO TODAY, HIROSHIMA WAS BOMBED
    BY ENOLA GAY, an American bomber at the instruction of then US President Truman.

    And that started endless sufferings which continue to this day….
    The horror began at 8:15 A.M. on a hot summer day in HIROSHIMA,
    a busy port with two rivers converging in-between the vastly populated city.

    The bomb exploded several kilometers= IN MID-AIR= BEFORE IT REACHED THE EPICENTER and THAT >>> made the devastation even more horrendous.

    The bomb was seen hundreds of kilometers away, and its effects covered a radius
    hundreds of kilometers WIDE and more…

    .It incinerated the entire city and killed instantly almost all who were nearby.
    By some miracle, those who survived walked the street stripped of clothing,
    skin parts dripping away, faces burned, blood spluttered all over…
    the air smelt of burnt human corpses, burnt hair, and more.

    These people lived to tell the horror to the next generation, …
    and vowed that NEVER AGAIN WILL THERE BE A repeat of what happened
    in HIROSHIMA.

    THE bomb instantly killed hundreds of thousands…and has wrecked havoc on the lives of its citizens sixty years hence. The survivors developed MULTIPLE CANCER
    as a result of that bombing. Each year, the list of victims grow as new names are added.
    The survivors, their children…and their children’s children continue
    to suffer from the effects of that tons of TNT.

    I KNOW. I have been to Hiroshima several years back. My family went to a prefecture south of Kyushu and on the way back, we stopped by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Am I grateful we did!

    I SAW the pictures taken BEFORE and AFTER the bombing; the remnants of the day of horror, the old kid bike, the young boy’s torn uniform, the wall where the black rain fell, the nail that slipped off from a boy’s fingers, the pictures taken by the people from Enola Gay, and those taken by a fellow victim, the children crawling for water, the bodies piled up, burnt and dead…and more….

    I READ the inscriptions, the labels…and the stories;

    I HEARD the tales of horror, the handwritings of survivors;I

    FELT the chaos, the scorching heat[more than 100 degrees C], the grief of the people, the loss it incurred,the devastation it caused…and the lives it has to pay.

    I CRIED….AS I WALKED PAST THE EXHIBITS…

    AND I CRY, EVEN NOW…AS I REMEMBER THE EXPERIENCE THAT WAS HIROSHIMA.

    I SHED TEARS…..
    I SHED TEARS because there was TOTAL CARNAGE in BOMBINGS AND KILLINGS
    AND THESE HAVE NOT STOPPED…EVEN TODAY.

    “WARS MAKE BEASTS OF MEN.”- so says a big car company Executive when we talked about the last war. Indeed!

    AT THE CENTER of the Park is a CENOTAPH and in it a VAULT where names of victims are kept.On it is an epitaph that says: “SLEEP WELL AND REST IN PEACE; WE WILL NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.”

    The message is for the world, as it is for the people who died there.
    The message is for these power-hungry leaders to stop and think..

    .And I pray that PEACE DESCEND UPON THE HEARTS OF THESE MEN
    WHO PREY ON INNOCENT CIVILIANS AND PEACE-LOVING PEOPLE.

    Today, Hiroshima is a CENTER FOR PEACE ACTIVISTS.There is an eternal flame on one side that will only be extinguished when the last nuclear power is destroyed.

    HIROSHIMA left an impact in the deepest recesses of my mind and heart.

    I WILL NEVER FORGET HIROSHIMA and the memories of that short visit.
    IT changed my outlook in life.
    IT changed the way I look at the “SUPERPOWERS.”

    PEACE remains an impossible dream for us
    who are supposed to be enjoying the free world….

    AHHH!!!! PEACE! WHAT price must mankind pay for that elusive dream?

    NO MORE HIROSHIMA!

    and PEACE TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL!!!

  3. taipan88

    NAGASAKI suffered the same fate.
    Though I have ever visited it, Let the world be one in saying NO! to another atomic holocaust.
    Let Nagasaki be the last!

    NO MORE HIROSHIMA!

    NO MORE NAGASAKI!

  4. KULAS PIRO

    I stayed in Nagasaki for ten months as a JICA scholar way back 1992. I share in full the sentiments of taipan88.

    I had Japanese friends who where orphaned because of that BOMB.

    No sense in War. No sense in War

  5. taipan88

    I should have said “NEVER” insead of ever in my last post. The 2nd line should be: “Though I have never visited it…”
    ——

    Kulas, I was a MOMBUSHO scholar, too. I stayed here because of my roots. Though I may be living outside Inang Bayan, my heart longs for the country that nurtured me in my youth.

    ——
    We may be small voices amidst the jungle out there…but let us be one in calling for PEACE for the world.

    NO MORE WARS!

  6. Arbet

    I believe we should research more on the burning issue of the necessity (or non-necessity) of using the atom bomb on that period. Many reports have appeared (I saw one on CNN a week ago) stating that using the bomb was unnecessary, and Truman was told it was not needed. And some research even indicate that Truman knew Hiroshima was not really a military target due to large number of civilians in the area at that time.

  7. gari

    taipan, its true that visiting hiroshima is a moving journey. a pilgrimage of sort for peace advocates.

    arbert, when i was in hiroshima september last year, they had a documentary looking at that angle of necessity and non-necessity.

    i agree that NEVER should be the term.

  8. nina

    i saw a report on CNN last night about an american war correspondent, entering nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. he entered as an american soldier, because gen. mcarthur forbid reporters from covering the horrific events.
    the journalist is dead now. his son found his reports/articles in his father’s apartment after 60 years.
    the reports, yellowed and faded with age, are still pretty much powerful written accounts on the horrors of that moment.
    a moment that should never be repeated.

  9. toho

    Arbet, if it is true about truman & everyone responsible for this suffering, then the heat of the atom bomb is nothing compared to the heat of hell.

  10. taipan88

    I saw a BBC docu mentioning that the bomb was never tested on humans..YET truman and his advisers went on; I hope they are truly resting in peace for that annihilation of civilians.

    —-
    gari, sure glad am not alone who experienced Hiroshima. It is my pervent hope that people see it personally to be able to ‘feel the pain..’

  11. har

    Manolo,

    I just kept crying reading all these… I’m at work and I’m crying…

  12. mlq3

    har, it’s the same way i felt when my friend’s mom told me her family’s story.

    taipan, there’s a good discussion in wikipedia.

  13. har

    taipan, Manolo:

    May I share this to friends? I will post them as is. Thanks.

  14. har

    taipan, Manolo:

    May I share these to friends? I will post them as they are so as to retain proper attribution. Thanks.

  15. mlq3

    har, but of course.

  16. har

    Gari:

    you mentiond about papers cranes.. it brings to mind a song by the group Hiroshima “A Thousand Cranes” or something… I listened to it alot when I was in college… the melody of the song gave me an impression of serenity (i knew the group and the song had something to do about the bomb dropped in that place) and now I realized (after this read) how a stark contrast the melody of the song was to the horrors of that holocaust.

  17. gari

    har, yeah…maybe it’s an Asian wonder how we can find hope and optimism amidst the fact that we grief on our loses.

    when i double checked my blog, am bit surprise to see that something on hiroshima was my first entry.

  18. taipan88

    sure, har…

    The better for many to know….

    The paper cranes symbolizes a dying girl’s hope to be cured of her disease as an after effect of the radiation. That girl diligently folded thousands of paper cranes
    with the hope that the cranes will take away her illness…

    Sadly, that girl eventually died…

    There is a small statue built for that girl at one side of the Atomic Dome. And people from all over the world continuously send their multi-colored paper cranes to Hiroshima.

    Thanks, mlq3, I’ll try that.

  19. taipan88

    …now i know a little about the great mlq3!
    Thanks for dropping by, sir.
    Just started my own, and i’m still at a loss…

  20. mlq3

    taipan, i like your blog. specially the entry on uni. to think filipinos are living such different lives in so many places, and yet, we can all connect!

  21. gari

    the name of the little girl who made those paper crane is SADAKO…:-)

  22. taipan88

    sir mlq3,

    Uni? or is it unagi[eels]?

    quite true; thanks to modern technology;
    i don’t need to go back home as often as i used to to to check on things in manila.

    thanks again; i feel truly honored! [oh hah!]

    —-

    gari, ….yup! Sadako-chan.
    the Japanese believe that making a thousand cranes can make them well again. Actually it’s an old folklore, but is used as a good luck sign even now…

  23. sesto callende

    taipan, i also saw the BBC docu–the accurate and most balanced on the hiroshima and nagasaki bombing that i’ve ever seen. indeed, hiroshima was preserved to be an experiment for THE bomb whose impact at such a level was unknown to the scientists and leaders of the US.

    i abhor war and the atrocities that it brings. i appreciate world leaders who endeavor to prevent a repeat of the bombing and those who campaign sincerely for the non-use of nuclear weapons. i wonder though when–and not IF– the object of such campaign will no longer be towards states but individuals or groups such as the al qaeda. how will the international community deal with threats posed by weapons of mass destruction falling on the wrong hands?

    the means of war may have changed, but the ends still remain the same: power.

  24. taipan88

    sesto c.,

    the line has no end…
    it keeps on moving, just like in a circle…
    no one has stopped the superpowers;
    how do we expect ‘small’ groups’ to stop?

    each year, the manifesto for peace is read before people from all over the world.

    alas! the call remains unheeded, even now as we speak.

    btw, a concert was held at the commemoration ceremony at Hiroshima & Nagasaki. It was brought to life by young musicians from all over the world. There was this american girl who was interviewed. She was crying. She said she was overwhelmed by Hiroshima, and that despite the horrors the people suffered, the victims they talked to remain calm and harbor no grudge against her and her countrymen.
    She mentioned that she thought 9/11 was horrible. She never realized that Hiroshima is a hundred times more.

    You see, I never stop crying hearing all these, coz I’ve seen the place..felt it… experienced it.

    The BBC docu showed the simulation of the drop; the exhibits showed all…

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