The Peace Park Story

A version of this article originally appeared on this blog in 2010.

Thanks to having parents who fully supported my desire to become fluent in Japanese, I had the good fortune of going abroad to Japan for two summers in high school (and then for my entire junior year of college). I spent both of those summers going to high school in Hiroshima.

There is a place in Hiroshima called the Peace Park. It’s at the epicenter of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and it remains as a memorial to those who were killed that day. It’s a beautiful, sprawling park with an amazing museum, tons of paper cranes (which people make to honor the dead), and the Gembaku Dome, one of the few buildings that survived the blast.

The first time I went to the park, I was moved beyond words. It’s hard to comprehend the feeling of standing on the hallowed ground where so many thousands of people shared the same moment of death. A death at the hands of America, my home country. I wept the first time I walked through the museum, a place where you can not only see the shadows of people who were instantly killed by the blast forever burnt into stone steps, but also where you can read statements from Japanese leaders about how they hold no hard feelings against America. How they simply want peace.

In Hiroshima, 66,000 citizens–not military–were instantly killed. Three days later in Nagasaki, 39,000 people died on impact. Hundreds of thousands of people died soon afterwards in both cities, both from the radiation and from dehydration. Even more died in the napalm fire-bombings in Tokyo (discussed in detail in recent episodes of Revisionist History).

I always think about Hiroshima and Japan today, August 6. My heart goes out to the people of Japan. While the scale is different, today I share the sentiment with the people in Beirut who died and suffered due to the blast there on August 4, 2020.

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