I am in Nagasaki prior to going to Hiroshima for the World Nuclear Victims Forum.
Yesterday I visited the sites related to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9,1945.
These are some simple impressions of a first-time visitor.
I wasn't prepared for the number of groups of schoolchildren visiting these sites. It gave me hope to see them.
|Peace Park in Nagasaki. (Note the school group assembled before the statue.)|
One group of schoolchildren -- about 8 to 10 years old, I think -- was performing a ceremony before the main statue in the Peace Park. Each child spoke some words, then a few carried up multiple strands of paper cranes to add to those already hanging there, and then one student came up and led the rest in singing a song.
The next day I had an opportunity to speak with some of these visiting schoolchildren.
Being at the hypocenter of the bomb took my breath away. You enter a separate park with a wide plaza in the center. Where is the hypocenter? And then you see the edge of a series of concentric rings out of the corner of your eye.
Down a set of steps, an exhibit behind glass shows the actual ground level at the time of the bombing, filled with deformed debris. I thought it was appropriate that the glass made it impossible to get a picture without also capturing my own reflection.
|Debris at ground level of the Nagasaki hypocenter.|
On a wall alongside the eternal flame, a series of tiles were provided by peace advocates from around the world -- young and old.
|Peace tile, Nagasaki.|
I was particularly struck by one that showed the faces of the contributors. It reminded me of a graphic I saw a few months ago about the campaign in Japan to prevent re-militarization.
|People Power Against War in Japan: A Lesson for Us All?|
Just outside the atomic bomb museum, there is a monument to the mothers and children killed by the bomb.
|Detail, monument to mothers and children killed by the atomic bomb, Nagasaki.|
It reminds me of Munch's "Scream." I felt that if there was just one image to sum up my visit here, it would be this one.
|The 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.|
The actual Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Pugwash Conferences in 1995 is on display in the museum. (As someone who was once involved in revoking a Nobel Peace Prize, I found it notable.)
The most moving part of the visit was the memorial to the victims: Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. I didn't take photographs there, but here is one I found on the web:
|Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims|
Finally, these two pictures -- Nagasaki before and after the bomb -- summed it all up for me:
|Nagasaki - before (above) and after (below)|
11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945.
Why are we waiting to eliminate nuclear weapons?
MORE: Please see also Encounter in Nagasaki . . . and . . . FIRE AND BLAST: A Curriculum that Confronts Nuclear Danger? . . .
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