Hiroshima

Today, Hiroshima.

I was moved to tears several times. Sometimes I wanted to grab people and say, "Don't you see? Don't you understand?"

But of course the people who live there, have to get on with their lives. We can't remember too much, or we'd stop to memorialize every step; every square yard of earth is the grave of some being.

Somewhere at my parent's house is a photo of my brother and me sitting on one of the cannon at Fort McHenry when we were children, smiling, laughing. (I'm sure this is yet another federal crime to add to my list of offenses, but trust that the statute of limitations has passed.) We never thought about how these tubes had once spit fire and death, how men had died in the bombardment.

Indeed, just like Ft. McHenry, the A-bomb dome, the children's memorial, and the cenotaph for the bombing victims seem to be mandatory field trips for the local kids. They swarm through the peace museum, goofing off, doing their fieldtrip Q&A classwork; I wonder if any of them understood the exhibits of charred school uniforms from so many their own age killed. (Young people were pressed into service clearing firebreaks against air raids, and so many were out in the open that morning.)

Outside the dome, me taking pictures, kids waving to me, "Hello!", practicing their English. Strange juxtapositions, the wreckage my country wrought on theirs behind their greetings.

The museum had exhibits showing how as early as May 1943, the decision had been made to target Japan with a nuclear bomb, and showed how the final decision related not just to ending the war, but to getting the U.S. one up on the Soviet Union (which I had heard before), and also justifying the enormous investment in the Manhattan Project.

They were quite frank (as was the Osaka Peace Center exhibit) on Japanese atrocities during the war, not dwelling on them but definitely not avoiding the issue.

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