Edited from my August 9, 2016 and August 6, 2017 posts regarding the anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended the Pacific side of World War II.
“No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.” — Albert Camus
Yesterday marked the first of two horrifying anniversaries, with the second following in two days. On August 6 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, three days before dropping a different type of atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki – with the threat of additional bombings unless the Japanese agreed to unconditionally surrender to allied forces. The devastation in Nagasaki alone killed at least 74,000 people. In Hiroshima at least 40,000 people were killed in the initial blast, with upwards of 70,000 more in the following weeks. The bombings left a decades long legacy of horror and illness, as the long-term dangers of radiation exposure became apparent. And my heart breaks a bit more every time I think about it. And, although I know – and understand – the thinking behind the decsion to use the weapons (a decision that was not made by the US alone), I also know that they should never be used again – by anyone. There is no cause great enough to justify the use of nuclear weapons – especially now that we better understand all of the ramifications that go along with their use.
Like all baby boomers, I grew up in a Cold War world, dominated by the nuclear arms race, and the uncomfortable notion of peace brought about by mutually assured destruction. I have no desire to revisit those days, or for my children or grandchildren to have to live with those thoughts. I may not have the solution for world peace, but I know it cannot be found in nuclear threats. Nor can it be brought about, or sustained, by war.
Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, a day that would “live in infamy”, but for me, for most of my life, it has been August 6th and August 9th, 1945 that are perhaps the most infamous days that I hope the world ever comes to know.
“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”
— Lao Tzu