On August 6, 1945, three B-29 aircraft made their way over the Japanese port city of Hiroshima, dropping an atomic weapon named “Little Boy” that lethally claimed between 90,000 and 166,000 lives. Three days later, a second explosion codenamed “Fat Man” occurred over the city of Nagasaki, taking an additional 60,000 to 80,000 lives – thereby expending the complete arsenal of atomic ordnance available to the United States at the time, although a third bomb could have hastily been constructed for a third mission. The results of these explosions are horrific and stand as a warning to the modern world of what could happen should terrorists ever achieve the capability of detonating such a device in a major metropolitan area. Such an eventuality would make the events of 911 pale in comparison, in that way making terrorism one of the gravest threats to the survival of the human race. In deep recognition of this menace, the city of Hiroshima has unswervingly promoted and maintained the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park since 1950 – gradually adding to its meaningful symbolism as the years have unfolded and moved forward. Hiroshima is also one of the most vocal proponents of world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Situated at the location of what was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial area, the park consists of various memorials, museums and educational lecture halls – sprawled over the open field that was created by the atomic explosion itself. At the very center of the park is the Memorial Cenotaph, honoring the names of those known to have perished in the 1945 blast and bearing the nonpolitical epitaph “please rest in peace, for we will never repeat this evil again.” Not far from this epitaph, an eternal flame has burned since 1964, with no intention of extinguishment until all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed and the threat of nuclear warfare has vanished from human history. Another building that has taken on aspects of sacredness and transcendent spirituality to the citizens of Japan is the A-Bomb Dome, which was situated at the epicenter of the blast and still stands as a haunting ruin and reminder of the bomb’s impact on Japanese culture. In 1966, the city of Hiroshima adopted the resolution that the dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, should stand in its ruined state for eternity – as a reminder to the world of nuclear war’s potential impact on the future of the human race. Those wishing further education on the atomic bomb – and its destruction of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 – can visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which routinely makes a point of protesting recent nuclear explosions by resetting the Museum’s Peace Watchtower to zero – as an indication that nuclear warfare is still very prevalent in the thoughts and actions of humankind.
Of poignant clarity to the deep philosophical message surrounding the park is the Children’s Peace Monument, which was dedicated in 1958 to the memory of Sadako Sasaki – a Japanese girl who contracted and died of leukemia as a result of the atomic blast. Sadako is remembered worldwide for her “thousand paper cranes,” and her story is immortalized in the bestselling book entitled Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of happiness and longevity – and many say that the gods will grant a wish to any person that folds a thousand origami cranes. Although Sadako was only able to fold 644 paper cranes before she died at the age of 11 from leukemia she contracted due to the atomic blast, her classmates took it upon themselves to fashion the remainder, with which she was lovingly buried. Funded through donations made by Japanese school children, the Children’s Peace Memorial features an elevated statue of Sadako Sasaki clutching a golden crane above her head. Inspired by her story, school children from around the world send millions of paper cranes to the monument each year, and they are prominently placed on display nearby as testimony to Sadako’s timeless popularity.
Every year on August 6, the citizens of Hiroshima recognize the anniversary of the atomic bombing with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, which takes place in front of the Memorial Cenotaph as an effort to appease the souls of those that died in the blast and to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons. At exactly 8:15am (the time of the explosion in 1945), school children and a representative of bereaved families call the world to a moment of silent meditation by ring the “Peace Bell.” The ceremony also includes a yearly Peace Declaration from the Mayor of Hiroshima, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace – as well as the release of doves into the air and a commitment to peace by all the children of Hiroshima. A similar ceremony occurs on a yearly basis three days later in Nagasaki, as recognition of the explosion that took place over that city on August 9, 1945.
The threat of terrorists using a crude nuclear device is a very real possibility in the world today. In fact, such threats have been levied against countries like the United States since as early as 1987 – and the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism issued a warning in 1986 that the “probability of nuclear terrorism is increasing.” Such concerns today would likely involve the use of “dirty bombs” or attacks on nuclear power facilities. Hence, the prayers offered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a yearly basis are indeed for the benefit of the human race. Be sure to view either of the very moving videos below, taken by 2 visitors to the park. The second is shorter than the first. As always, please sign the petition to which this website is dedicated by clicking on the following link.
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