Rena and Wade Around the World

Our first Round the World trip from Jan 2006 - July 2006.

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Location: Regina/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

The adventures of living and working abroad. From Cayman to Europe, a break year and side adventure travels, this is our story.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hiroshima (Japan)

In Grade 7 I wrote a speech about the first atomic bomb that was dropped on a place called Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am. I'm sure most kids like me absolutely dreaded this part of the curriculum that required you not only to face your fear of public speaking in front of your peers but also fain commitment and passion to the topic of your choice. I remember in my innocence thinking how horrible this act really was. However, once I had given my speech and gotten over the horror of having to compete further in a regional competition (I thought I had a plight worse than the victims of Hiroshima) it somehow was neatly filed away in the back of my mind.

That part of my brain was seriously shaken up on May 25, 2006. It is one thing to know of the text book, dullified (a word invented by me) version of horrible acts in history. It is completely another thing to witness the living memorial to the people it directly affected and still affects. The history books do not adequately convey the human experience of this tragedy. Perhaps if I had understood that better in Grade 7 I would have won the regional competition, although God forbid I may have had to go onto the National competition then!

Here is picture of the A Bomb Dome. It was built in 1915 and was a beloved landmark prior to the bomb. Although the subject of much debate, it has now been preserved as a memorial of that fateful day. Everything has been left as it fell. The bomb exploded 600 meters above and 160 meters to the southeast of the Dome. It's shell is one of the few buildings that survived the blast, most were obliterated. It is believed to have partially survived because the blast was almost directly above it. There was not a single survivor from this building.

Here is a look at the Cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims. Framed in the background is the A Bomb Dome and the Pond of Peace. All of this is within Peace Memorial Park. Rumour had it that no grass would grow in Hiroshima for 75 years after the bomb was dropped. Guess that rumour was wrong since its 60th anniversary was last year. It is amazing when you are walking around the city and the many parks to think that this place was the target of an atomic bomb and was reduced to nothingness. The resilience of the people and the city is astonishing.

350,000 victims resulted from a flash second in August 1945. At detonation the temperature at the center was 1 million degrees Celsius resulting in a massive fireball. After 1 second, it had extended 280 meters and surface temperatures reached 5,000 Celsius. Pressure of several hundred atmospheres were created disintegrating buildings and people alike. 30 minutes after the blast, black rain poured from the sky. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum contains pieces of white walls outside of city that have thick black streaks running down them, forever preserved in the plaster.

Most horrifyingly preserved in the museum are shadows permanently etched in sections of walls on display which are the last remains of the carbon from the bodies of the people standing in front of them at the time of the blast. Roof tiles from houses outside the city welded together in twisted sculptures from the searing heat. Little girls and boys metal lunch boxes containing fossilized remains of rice that were never eaten. Keep in mind, this is all that is left as a remnant of the girls and boys. By the end of December 1945 when the immediate affects of radiation started to settle down, 140,000 people had died. The rest of the 350,000 people continued to suffer for many, many years. Some have still not found an end to their pain.

Here is a picture of Hiroshima after the dropping of the bomb. Most buildings within a 2km radius of the hypocenter were crushed instantly. One of the most memorable and heartbreaking stories is that of a girl named Sadako. Sadako suffered from leukemia. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes from the paper her medicine came in, she would be saved from death. A monument has been built in remembrance of her and for all of the children that were innocent victims of the bomb. Today the paper crane is a symbol of peace around the world. While we were at the Peace Memorial Park we were handed paper cranes by some Japanese children from Osaka that were at the Park as part of a school field trip.

War might be war, but dropping atomic bombs on cities of innocent people is monstrous and inhumane. Worse yet, is just a few days after Hiroshima, another bomb was droped on Nagasaki. There simply is no justification for it. The mayors of Hiroshima have made it their mission to formally protest all nuclear tests going on in the world to this day. Walls of letters of protest that have been written over the last 60 years are contained in the Hiroshima Peace Museum. We read some of them. The latest letter was dated February 24, 2006 and sent to George Bush and Tony Blair. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters:

"With the international community gravely concerned about nuclear proliferation, the US purports to be leading the effort to find a peaceful resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear program, yet you conduct a subcritical nuclear test, a clear indication that you are developing new nuclear weapons. Such behaviour is intolerable. You have brought the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the international agreement regarding nuclear weapons, to the brink of collapse, and, we fear, are provoking a new round of proliferation."

To end this posting on a more positive and hopeful note, here is a picture of a beautiful Hiroshima at night.


Blogger Kami said...

kinda puts in perspective - an excellent post guys!

10:00 AM  

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