Posts Tagged ‘ Heiwa Koen ’

A Moment for Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Peace Park.  May 16, 2008.

Hiroshima Peace Park. May 16, 2008.

My first full day in my new town was on August 6, 1990.  The day before, a couple of town hall employees had picked me up in Kobe and together we had driven a couple of hours to the small town that would be my home for the next year, a small town, deep in the heart of Southern Japan’s Chugoku Mountains.  I was settled into my new home, a spacious, two-story house along side the Maruyama River.  That night teachers, administrators and PTA luminaries with the Middle School, where I would teach for the next year, threw a welcome party for me.  It was the first of several welcome parties.

The next morning another introductory whirlwind.  I was brought to the Principal’s office where I would be officially received.  The Vice Mayor and Superintendent of the Board of Education were there, too.  In the corner of the Principal’s office a television was on, showing the morning news.  Just as the initial introductions were made everything stopped.  It was as though the wind suddenly went out of the sails of a previously fast-moving ship.  It took me a couple of beats and a quick glance over at the television:   it was 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1990, 45 years to the minute that an atomic bomb had detonated over Hiroshima.  The television was showing the live service — then with everyone’s heads bowed for 1 minute — from Hiroshima Peace Park.  After that moment of reverent silence, we all went on . . .

Middle School Girl at Hiroshima Peach Park Museum, May 16, 2008.

Middle School Girl at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum, May 16, 2008.

.

I visited Hiroshima in the spring of 1991, and did not revist until last year, co-leading a UAB “Study Abroad” trip to Japan.

For more (experience, photos, etc.) from Hiroshima, please see this page, posted here a few weeks ago.

July 16, 1945.

The site was called “Trinity”

At 5:29:45 am Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb exploded one hundred feet over a portion of the southern New Mexico desert known as the Jornada del Muerto – the Journey of the Dead Man. On seeing the fireball and mushroom cloud, J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: “I am become death the destroyer of worlds.” Trinity Test Director, Harvard Physicist Kenneth Bainbridge, had a less ethereal reaction, saying, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”

http://www.lanl.gov/history/atomicbomb/trinity.shtml

.

Three weeks later, at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the bomb called “Little Boy”, the first of two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities within a 72 hours, detonated about 2,000 feet above Hiroshima. . .

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum.  May 16.1945.

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum. May 16, 2008.

.

In May of 2008 I and Dr. John van Sant (Professor of Japanese History) lead a group 9 UAB students to Japan for a 10-day culture and history trip.  Besides Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Himeji, we visited Hiroshima for a couple of days.  I believe all of the students were moved by their time in Hiroshima.  It was only my second visit.  I was glad to see that the Museum had been updated dramatically since I first went there in the spring of 1991:  it included extensive information about Japan’s road to war and imperial dreams, which were all but missing in the earlier incarnation of the Museum that I had seen.  Nevertheless, to see all the children there and to know . . .

As any American who’s visited Hiroshima will tell you, there is simply no city with kinder, more gentle-souled people than Hiroshima.  The warmth (or even nonchalance) with which they treat Americans is beyond humbling.

.

"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome).  Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved.  May 16, 2008.

"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome). Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved. May 16, 2008.

.

Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene.  Gembaku Dohmu just to the right.  Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene. Gembaku Dohmu just to the right. Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

.

.

Teacher and students on field trip.  Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph.  May 16, 2008.

Teacher and students on field trip. Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph. May 16, 2008.