For peace remember Hiroshima Day
Today is Hiroshima Day. 63 years ago today, the crew of the United States bomber the Enola Gray dropped a bomb, Little Boy, onto the city of Hiroshima on the west of Japan's Honshu Island. The bomb blast directly killed an estimated 80,000 people. Injury and radiation poisoning killed another 90,000-140,000 by the end of the year.
I don't have figures for starvation and homelessness killing people, but wouldn't you say that these contributed a lot to the deaths by injury? After all, 69 per cent of the buildings destroyed, and another 6.6 per cent seriously damaged, and you can imagine what happened to the food stocks – either incinerated or irradiated. You can find out more on the bombing of Hiroshima, and of Nagasaki three days later, from Wikipedia.
Despite the debate over whether US President Harry Truman really had a 'choice' over whether to bomb Hiroshima or risk thousands of American (and Japanese) lives in an invasion of Japan to end the Pacific theatre of World War Two, Hiroshima remains an abiding reminder of the utter horror, and futility, of nuclear weapons and the way they have no way of discerning between civilian and military targets.
The true horror of Hiroshima – and Nagasaki – galvanised the world's peace movement and became the rallying point in the anti-nuclear weapons and anti-uranium industry movement and the peace movement. In many ways, it is as the survivors of Hiroshima want it. The Hiroshima Memorial remains a potent symbol of the devastation – and of remembrance – but perhaps not as much as the mushroom cloud.
If you are so inclined, and are in Melbourne, of course, there will be an anti-uranium, anti-nuclear and pro-peace rally in the city on Saturday the 9th at 1 pm at the State Library. There will also be a Peace Concert held by Melbourne-based Japanese peace activists at the Town Hall at 3 pm on Saturday, also marking Nagasaki Day.
But, instead of waiting for some 'official' Peace-come-anti-nuclear Rally or Peace festival on the weekend, I suggest that you can conduct your own Hiroshima Day activities. This can be a moment of silence to remember the first victims of the atomic bomb, or playing a peace song, or reading a poem, or lighting a candle or lantern, or folding origami paper cranes.
Folding origami paper cranes used to be a favourite and common peace activity to commemorate Hiroshima Day. It was something that thousands of school children in various parts of the world would do to mark the day and to call for peace. I'm uncertain how much it still gets done these days.
Here are some paper crane-folding instructions to follow, and here is an instructional video online (warning, I've been told the crane is a pretty tricky one to start origami with, so try this with someone who has done it before. I know I'll be doing just that tonight over the dinner table once the dishes are cleared.)
One of the other things I try to do each Hiroshima Day is to write a blog post on it as part of my rememberance, and as a renewal of my disavowal of all things nuclear.
These are easy activities, especially to do with kids in your family, or on your own on a busy mid-week. They are also easy enough to encourage other family members or housemates to do with you. The idea is to perform simple, accessible activities that bring to mind the victims of Hiroshima, of nuclear horror, and to resolve that nuclear weapons should never be used again and that all of us have a role in bringing peace.
[Image of Hiroshima memorial dome by bebouchard (cc)]