75 Years Later

(Read time: 3 minutes)

75 years ago, at 08:15 on August 6th and 11:02 on August 9th 1945, during the final stages of World War II, raids were conducted which resulted in nuclear weapons being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thousands of people were killed in an instant along with thousands more in the months and years that followed, many with radiation related illnesses. This was a pivotal moment which demonstrated our ability to destroy ourselves.

The human race from the very beginning has demonstrated violence, with innocent men, women and children suffering. All of these individuals represent names and memories which are ultimately swallowed up by time and cemented in history. Our history is stained with violence and in the shadows of such destruction we are reminded that our greatest strengths – our ability to imagine, our ability to create and our ability to build – can also result in our biggest weakness: complete devastation.

Countries are built on the belief that all are created equal irrespective of our individual differences, yet we are still capable of tyrannising those who have a different ideology. Technology allows us to understand the universe yet also results in our ability to build radar precision warheads. Philosophies which have taught us compassion, empathy and courage have often been twisted by those who wish to wreak havoc.

This is why we must all pause and reflect; why we must all imagine the confusion; why we must all imagine the black rain cloud; and why we must all imagine the bewildered innocent children. Admittedly, words and imagination are hollow attempts at conceptualising the destruction. Those who were not present will never understand the terror, but it is an important step in our individual moral progression. 

Naturally, the context of this historical moment is important and scholars continue to study the war and its ultimate end. History will continue to judge us but today, as we look back, pause and remember this terrible time which serves as a marker for significant global change, we must all reflect, we must all question injustice, and we must all recognise our own individual capacity for hatred, destruction and evil.

When President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima in 2016 he said:

“…we see these stories in the hibakusha (a word of Japanese origin with the meaning – a person affected by a bomb). The woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself. The man who sought out families of Americans killed here because he believed their loss was equal to his own…”

“…the world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening…”

As we take a moment to pause, we must all recognise our shared obligation to understand how we can prevent this horror from happening again because complacency in this complicated world is simply not an option.

Peace Memorial Park, Genbaku Dome, Japan

The Genbaku Dome was the only structure in the immediate vicinity to remain standing and through the efforts of the people of Hiroshima it has been preserved in the same state since the bombing. The Dome acts as a reminder of the destructive capabilities of our species but also as a beacon of hope for world peace. Today, Hiroshima has reinvented itself as a City of Peace and continues to strive for a world without nuclear capabilities.

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