On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb wiped out most of the city of Hiroshima, killing over 50,000 thousand people that day, and as many later as a result of exposure to the radiation and other effects. This spring, I stood on the soil of the city that was reborn from the ashes like a Phoenix.
The Atomic Bomb Dome was located almost directly underneath the explosion. It was not destroyed completely and the remnant of the building remains as a vivid reminder of what happened in 1945. The people inside it then succumbed to death instantly as building was ablaze with fire on that fatal day. Whatever remained of the structure has been preserved so that the World doesn’t forget the sufferings caused by nuclear weapons and war.
As I walked through the Hiroshima Peace Museum, I was horrified by the images of people shorn of their skin, almost indistinguishable from what remained of their clothes and corpses lying around. They will be forever burned in my brain. The Hall of Remembrance was a tribute to all the fallen, and had the names of every single casualty. Each one of these people had a family, a life. The casualties were innumerable. Young children and infants who never got to live a whole life, those unfortunate people who managed to survive the blast but were killed years later due to ill effects of the radiation.
The Children’s Peace Monument was by far the most touching part of the museum. It was inspired by the life of a girl who developed leukaemia for life because she was exposed to radiation at the age of two. The monument contains several colourful artworks done by young Japanese children, as with a simple message, a wish for peace. A wish to stay alive and not live a life of misery with an untreatable disease. A wish to go to school and grow up like any regular child. A wish for all those in the world who are casualties of different wars to live a normal life. A wish to protect anyone else from this terrible fate. A wish for world peace
As I read the documents on the project displayed in the museum, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the architects of this project did thorough research and still went ahead with it. The thought of destroying innocent lives for something as petty as revenge, even in a war, was something I just wasn’t able to understand. In fact, before the real atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, 49 practice bombs were dropped on different locations killing or injuring more than 1600 people each. It wasn’t enough to cause one-time destruction; several smaller hits were some reason justified in a war. Not to mention the real atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, three days after Hiroshima, even after they’d seen the destruction it had caused.
The thought that struck me the most was the fact that this city had been reduced to almost nothing, yet it had bounced back stronger than ever. A Japanese politician, Kazumi Matsui had once said, “Humans destroyed Hiroshima, but humans also rebuilt it.” The undamaged parts of the city were back on their feet just a few days after the bombing. The entire city was rebuilt from the rubble even after a typhoon had swept the city, just after the bombing. Their efficiency is astounding.
The city of Hiroshima doesn’t give off the vibes of a once dead city. To someone with absolutely no knowledge of the bombing, it would seem the same as any other Japanese city. It is now a beautiful city, and is surprisingly modern.
Yet an eternal reminder of the devastation caused by nuclear bombs remains…..