Thursday, August 11, 2005

Solemn Reflections

It’s time for me to move away from the story of my tank accident and do some solemn and serious reflecting.

Two issues have been on my mind today: the continuing crisis of world hunger and today (August 10) being the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki 60 years ago. I think that I shall expound on the latter.

Today some 6,000 or so individuals, including many aging A-bomb survivors, gathered into Nagasaki's Peace Memorial Park, which is but a few hundred yards from what was the center of the detonation for remembrance and a moment of silence. The bombing took place three days after the Enola Gay dropped the "Little Boy" bomb on Hiroshima, killing at least 140,000 in the world's first atomic bomb attack. Estimates of the death toll in Nagasaki range from 60,000 to 80,000. Today Nagasaki officials gave 74,000 as the death figure.

I have read that Iccho Itoh, the mayor of Nagasaki, addressed these words (or something close to them) to the United States:

"We understand your anger and anxiety over the memories of the horror of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Yet, is your security enhanced by your government's policies of maintaining 10,000 nuclear weapons, of carrying out repeated sub-critical nuclear tests, and of pursuing the development of new `mini' nuclear weapons?"

I feel the shame of what my nation did in dropping those two atomic bombs six months before my birth. I cannot comprehend the horror of the devastation, even though I have seen photographs and films of the aftermath. I cannot accept the rationalizing my government has done to defend the incineration and mutilation of thousands of innocent women, children, and elderly men who were not combatants against the United States.

I would have hoped that my country, who claimed itself “moral” enough to judge Germans at Nuremburg and Japanese at Tokyo guilty of war crimes, would have accepted responsibility for the two greatest war crimes in history: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I would have hoped that we would have made a solemn vow to God that we would never use such weapons again. I would have hoped, that with the demise of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the overt threat their nuclear arsenal posed to the United States, we would destroy all of our nuclear weapons.

None of that has taken place.

We continue to be armed with thousands of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, we call North Korea and Iran “rogue states” because of their possible arsenals. And, I ask myself, “Who are we, who actually detonated atomic bombs on two cities, to judge others when in the history of humankind we are the only one guilty of such atrocities?”

Still, I hope and pray for peace. I hope that someday we will have an honest and moral government that will do the right thing in light of God’s Law and Justice. I pray that someday this hellish world will know true justice and real peace. I hope, with, Benjamin Franklin, "...that (hu)mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for in my opinion there never was a good war, or a bad peace."

In the meantime, I say to the survivors and their offspring of Nagasaki and Hiroshima: forgive my nation who has sinned against you, and all our transgressions that we have committed against you; and grant us compassion in the sight of our God.

1 comment:

  1. But didn't the Japs start the war and because they started didn't they deserve to die? My Daddy used to say that the only good Jap was a dead Jap. I don't think we need to apologize for anything!