Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nagasaki Bomb Museum

We arrived in Nagasaki on Aug. 9, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic in 1945. Hundreds of people gathered in the Peace Park to pray for world peace and to remember the victims and those who continue to suffer the effects of war. The next day we took the kids to the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was unbelievably difficult to see all of the destruction, loss of life and suffering detailed in the displays. There is so much that we didn't know about this horrific event.

I didn't know that an estimated 75,000 people were incinerated in the initial blast. I didn't know that the epicenter was not the shipyard that was the intended target, but nearby Urakami Catholic Church. I didn't know that an additional 75,000 people were injured and later died from the effects of radiation poisoning.

Several kiosks replayed a video featuring black and white images of incinerated bodies; women, children, and the unrecognizable, and featuring quotes from survivors describing the horrors they had witnessed.

There were bits of burned clothing, a twisted tower, melted rosaries and rubble that had once been statues of Catholic saints. There were several clocks taken from destroyed homes and businesses eerily stopped at 11:02 a.m.

And there was a display depicting the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world, which countries had tested nuclear weapons, and the locations of those blasts.

This visual representation of the number of nuclear bombs stockpiled throughout the world was more than frightening. Most of the afternoon we talked about our country's responsibility for this event, and our personal responsibility to move forward and work for peace.

Later we went to the epicenter of the bomb blast and took the photos you see here.
After that we went back to the Peace Park to see the monuments dedicated to the hope for world peace. There we were interviewed by several Japanese students who were studying English. Part of their assignment was to interview English speaking people about the bombing, our knowledge of the event, our opinions, and ways we thought would be useful to avoid such an event in the future. It was amazing to listen to my kids discuss how they felt about the bombing, what they had learned, and their opinions about alternatives.

Listening to my kids express their opinions left me speechless. It was an incredibly moving day.


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