Nagasaki Memorial: “My G-d. What have we done?”

Nagasaki Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #68: I’ve never been given such a dirty look from an old man in my life. He stared me down as if I were the one who pressed the button or even the one who made the decision. A dark cloud hovered above me the entire day, and my shoulders slumped with my hands dug deep into my jeans pockets. I shuffled around and tried to avoid eye contact; hiding in shame for a past I had no control of, and completely in disgrace to be descendents of such a blood-soaked history.
August 9th at 11:03AM the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan. I stood there a little more than half a century later to hear the leaves rustle and tears roll down cheeks in the full-minute of silence. In the back of my mind throughout the entire day, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon was set on repeat.
Each word stuck in my mind and left my eyes stinging.
Why? I’ve studied my WWII history and know all the facts behind the issue, but still – Why? How did we wind up in the situation to begin with? Why must these conflicts be settled with the lives of the nations’ citizens and require the sacrifice of someone’s sons? Does a person’s life pass as nothing more than a statistic to the government? Is it okay if you’re removing the entire community from the face of the Earth in a blink of an eye? There’s no one suffering except those unlucky enough to live with the disfigurements from the impact and radiation.
The walk through the museum was slow and emotionally difficult. Every image seared into my eyes and made my stomach churn.
I jumped from perspective to perspective feeling a flood of emotions all at once. How did this child’s life change with half his skin grafted to hide the burns? What did his parents think (if they were still alive)? How was the photographer’s view of the world altered with every picture documented even deeper within his heart? How is it affecting our lives today – is this knowledge of our past going to prevent such travesties in the future? Why else would we study history if not to benefit from the lessons we gather from our past?
I looked through all the recovered remains in the museum; they were completely melted and barely recognizable. There were bottles fused together by the intense heat and recovered roof tiles with noticeable erosion from the shockwave.
I saw children walking through the museum’s passages trying to understand the significance of the event, but completely unable to fully grasp the concept of life-and-death, freedom-and-oppression, and love-and-hate. High schoolers would take pictures in front of statues smiling with peace symbols posing for the camera. Would you smile in front of a grave? Sometimes a smile doesn’t capture the real emotions of the moment. It’s a repeated camera pose that comes out generically beautiful by your own standards. It wasn’t a day for smiling. Even my generic pose that looks like I photoshopped the background doesn’t include a smile. I gave my pondering face.
Since this day was a memorial, tourists and locals alike filled the streets.
Large groups gathered with the television stations and watched the ceremonies to commemorate the passed. I stood there dazed with a level of sorrow, yet a glimmer of gratefulness for being alive and healthy. Hopefully we can all be hippies and just hold hands in this world. Live long and prosper (not in a factious way). There was a large tower with a burning torch at the top representing something to do with world peace. People were asked to make origami cranes and tape them onto the wall of the tower. I wrote on the wing of the crane I made, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace. ~John Lennon.”
There is a saying in Japanese history that if you make a thousand cranes, your wish will come true. Throughout the museum were these chains of different colored cranes.
Schools have done art projects completely made of cranes to represent peace, flowers, or nature. It was absolutely beautiful and took so much devotion.
I left my crane and a little butterfly on the memorial site sending my wishes for peace. Our world, sadly, does not support peace. We’ll live on continuing this blind hatred until a larger threat requires the unity of all humanity (like in Independence Day). Well, maybe if there’s no country, no nations, no boundaries, and no religion we’ll have a better chance. I don’t ask for a Utopia – just a world without war – maybe to some people, they’re the same thing. Hey, future generation: Don’t f@%# it up.
~See Lemons Imagine

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photo by: bensonryan