Thursday, November 30, 2006

Peace Park, Hiroshima

It was a cold dreary wet day. The night before, we had seen the A-bomb Dome dramatically lit up, but it was even more powerful in the daylight. It is one of the few remaining buildings which survived the blast after the atomic bomb was dropped on that fateful day, August 6, 1945. Seeing the destruction of such a massive building- the twisted steel beams and the crumbling bricks, the cracked concrete and the distorted skeleton of the dome, I can only imagine how thousands of innocent fragile human beings endured being burned alive or suffered a long painful cancerous death... The feeling of disbelief that such a massacre occurred reminded me of walking through Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam many years ago. The raindrops and the leaves of the weeping willows along the river looked like teardrops from the sky.
I was so emotional in the Peace Museum that I couldn't bring myself to take any pictures. I drew long deep breaths and felt tears welling up exhibit after exhibit, from the before / after photos of Hiroshima to the impressive wall of telegrams sent to the leaders of nations pleading them to discontinue the use of nuclear weapons, from the photos of burned victims to the drawings by school children of the aftermath. The second half of the museum housed the sacred remains of victims: blood stained school uniforms, a scorched tricycle, a single tattered slipper, the charred hair of a young girl, a burnt, beatup lunchbox.... I won't get into some of the more gory details... It was definitely a humbling experience... Was I proud to be an American at that point? Not so much... Leaving the museum, we solemnly walked past the Flame of Peace and Cenotaph, disappearing underground to the chapel-like Hall of Remembrance in the Peace Memorial Hall.

As a child, I had been deeply moved by the book "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes". The pages of my book are yellow and wrinkled from all the tears that fell onto them as I read the book over and over. So when I saw the Children's Peace Monument with a statue of Sadako at the top, I expected to break down in tears. Instead, it was uplifting to see the thousands of colorful cranes hanging in the display cases nearby, as symbols of Sadako's determination to live. Let no more children fall victim to an atomic bombing.

 This is our cry.
 This is our prayer.
 For building peace in the world.

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