Leila Eliot, ’16
BHSEC’s social-conscious nature was evident on Wednesday, April 29th, when students filed into the auditorium to hear accounts of the fateful events 70 years ago that would change the meaning of global warfare and the nature of war itself. On August 6th 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and on August 9th 1945 a second was dropped on Nagasaki. The United States claimed that it was the only way to end the devastation that was ensuing on account of WWII.
In memory of those who perished, as well as to commemorate those who survived, BHSEC students and faculty gathered to hear three atomic bomb survivors tell of the horrors that they faced during the dropping of the atomic bomb as well as the chaos that took over their lives as a result.
Though the first speaker was only a year old at the time, she accounted her mother’s experience, making sure that those in the audience understood the horrors that followed Japan after the attack. She vividly depicted men, women, and children walking from the devastation either naked or with clothing melted onto their skin, covered in scorched flesh and blood that very often wasn’t their own. She painted a picture of her mother scrambling to save all she could while attempting to nurse those who were wounded, attempting to create order in a chaotic situation. She provided pictures of maggots crawling in and out of wounds and cots covered with the grime, insects, and blood of patient after patient.
The second speaker, a man who was seven at the time of the explosion, was lucky enough to survive but had to do so with only his sister, aunt, and uncle because his parents and two older brothers didn’t survive the explosion. He described having to live with the fact that they would never be able to locate the bodies of his brothers and father as well as coming to terms with finding the corpse of his mother in front of their destroyed home.
The last survivor, though he didn’t describe his experiences, left the fascinated audience with a message, one that was meant to unite us all against a force that could devastate the world as it did Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On a visit to Israel and Palestine, he explained that two young men approached him with the same question: was he ever so angry that he wished those who had demolished the lives of so many around him would feel the pain they inflicted on others. Instead of responding with anger, he clearly and definitively said no, because no one should ever have to experience the pain, social upheaval and annihilation that Japanese citizens were forced to experience during 1945.
As years pass, fewer and fewer survivors of this devastating moment in history will walk the earth. Those who remain will continue to retell their stories, enlightening a new generation and presenting to those who are lucky enough to hear their stories. The third speaker left his listeners with a final request: don’t let the world forget.
We cannot let the world forget.