Hiroshima: 70 years ago today

It’s now 70 years since America dropped the first atomic bomb in warfare. The target: Hiroshima. There’s plenty of information, images and debate about the bombing (and the subsequent one of Nagasaki) so I won’t cover that here.

I have, though, written already about my experience meeting a survivor. The suffering – mental and physical – that survivors carry around must be incredible. And in the name of freedom and democracy too.

Only a month after visiting Hiroshima with my friends Neil and Rami, I got to see the vehicle of Hiroshima’s destruction: the Enola Gay . It’s currently on display in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. It is a really beautiful aircraft. Deceptively so. I suppose most warplanes are, to be honest. They are engineering marvels and triumphs of human imagination, ingenuity, endeavour, and purpose. But most are also anonymous. Most of us do not know, even roughly, how many people have died through the power of the aircraft in front of us at a museum, or an airshow. It could be thousands, dozens or none. In that way it’s easy to lose sight of their true purpose: killing.

Not so with the Enola Gay. We don’t know for certain how many people died when it dropped ‘Little Boy’, but estimates range from 90,000 to 160,000 (Source: Wikipedia). Think that over…one aircraft alone accounted for at least 90 thousand deaths.

I beautiful piece of engineering, no doubt. But standing next to it gave me the chills. It made me angry, sad, frightened. An odd sensation to have looking at an inanimate object. But it’s not to blame. We are. Humans. For all that we’re brilliant, we’re also terrible.

R.I.P. the victims of pointless wars.


Hiroshima: Kiyomi’s Story

In November 2012, a couple of friends and I had the great pleasure and honour to meet Kiyomi Kohno, an 80 year old hibakusha.  Kiyomi survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945.

I have been wanting to tell the story of our short time with Kiyomi for a while now.  I gave a short talk to fellow students at Uni in May last year, 6 months after meeting Kiyomi.  But I wanted to relate to a wider audience the experience of meeting such an extraordinary woman.

This kind of writing does not come naturally to me, I’m afraid, so it will be perhaps not as eloquent(!) as my normal writing, but please bear with me!

Continue reading