Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Long Shadow of Hiroshima

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Long Shadow of Hiroshima

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: The long shadow of Hiroshima

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Aug. 6:

It is 70 years since the first atomic bomb exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, yet world has never properly heeded the testimony of those who survived this cataclysm.

When the bomb burst in a blinding flash of blue light at 8:16 a.m., on Aug. 6, 1945, when its giant mushroom cloud billowed upward like a grotesque death's head, when the temperatures above the city grew as hot as the sun's surface and 140,000 people died or were mortally injured, Akiko Takakura was a 20-year-old woman walking near the centre of the blast.

Here is what she saw after the unimaginable release of energy from fissioning uranium atoms vaporized thousands of victims around her but somehow failed to strike her down.

"Many people on the street were killed almost instantly," she later said. "The fingertips of those dead bodies caught fire and the fire gradually spread over their entire bodies."

What remained engraved in the memory of hospital director Michiko Hachiya were "the shadowy forms of people, some of whom looked like walking ghosts. Others moved as though in pain, like scarecrows, their arms held out from their bodies with forearms and hands dangling."

A young mother, Eiko Taoka, recalled that just before he died, there was a mess of blood flowing from her infant son's head. "But he looked at my face and smiled."

At the time a 14-year-old in line for school, Akihiro Takahashi, simply said he "felt the city of Hiroshima had disappeared."

Even these four eyewitnesses cannot explain all. Seven decades after this nuclear apocalypse, historians still argue over why it, and the bombing of Nagasaki that killed up to 80,000 people three days later, happened. Even now, the experts disagree on whether these bombings were necessary precursors to the end of the most destructive conflict in history, the Second World War.

On this sombre anniversary, we leave such debates to others. …

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