Every year on August 6, the world observes the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Early on that morning in1945, a B-29 Superfortress bomber known as the Enola Gay, under the command of Col. Paul Tibbets, dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb over Hiroshima. The explosion killed as many as 70,000 people in an instant and left tens of thousands more with injuries and illnesses that would later claim their lives. At that moment, a new era – a nuclear era – began. Every August 6 reminds us that memory cannot be morally neutral.
From the Japanese point of view, of course, the atomic bomb was the cause of great suffering, of the deaths of more than 100,000 civilians. The exhibit should not, though, just focus on the Japanese as victims. It must also include reference to the Japanese government’s responsibility for the beginning and continuation of the war as well as the Hirohito regime’s inhumane treatment of war prisoners. The exhibit’s visitors will, naturally, view the display with perspectives colored by their existing points of view on the bombing, making it even more important for the organizers to present fairly all sides of the issue. This includes offering arguments made in defense of the use of nuclear weapons, the main one being that it shortened the war and made unnecessary a full-scale U.S. invasion of Japan that could have led to more deaths than those caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
I believe that the foundation of the exhibition on the Enola Gay should be the promotion of peace. I remember, years ago in school in Ukraine, we learned songs about a Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. At first, she did not appear to be injured, but a few years later, like many people in the area who survived the initial blast, she developed leukemia. She decided that if she could make 1,000 paper cranes, the illness would pass. She died several hundred short of her goal. Since then, the origami paper crane has symbolized peace. I would like to include stories like this in the exhibit, perhaps giving viewers the opportunity to make their own paper cranes in the name of peace.
|People protest for peace in the Peace Memorial Park on August 6, in Hiroshima, Japan. Getty Images / Junko Kimura|
It is impossible to say with certainty what might have been, to know whether the United States and the Allies could have won the war with less of a human toll than that taken by the use of atomic bombs. Nevertheless, the exhibit should encourage viewers to work to create a world in which the horrors of Hiroshima are never repeated.
|Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on August 5, in Hiroshima, Japan. Getty Images / Junko Kimura|