It’s natural to want to forget a tragedy, especially if you are responsible for it. But sometimes remembering the horror of your actions is the best way to prevent repeating them. August 6th marks the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—an event which is commemorated in the U.S. as “Hiroshima Day.”
On August 6, 1945, during WWII, an American B-29 bomber piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets deployed the world’s first atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The massive explosion killed an estimated 80,000 people immediately upon contact and tens of thousands more civilians died slow, painful deaths from radiation exposure in the months and years to follow. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, killing some 40,000 more civilians.
Few survivors of the bombings are still alive today, but time has not eased the burden of those who lived through the blast. Cancer and other diseases have plagued the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ever since the event. Decades later, people are still dying and suffering as a result of the A-bombs and their poisonous aftermath.
On March 31, 2016, the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington, D.C. World leaders gathered to discuss the threat of nuclear terrorism and how to prevent it. But according to Global Zero, the focus of the world leaders in attendance was on securing nuclear material—not disarming the 15,000 nuclear weapons already in existence. If the tragedies of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are to be our teachers, it must be accepted that “nuclear security” can never exist as long as nuclear weapons do.
If you would like to take action to help eliminate nuclear weapons from the globe, sign the Global Zero petition (globalzero.org) which urges summit partners to develop a plan for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. You can also join SLO Mothers for Peace on Saturday, August 6, 5:30 to 7:00pm in Eto Park in San Luis Obispo for a Hiroshima Day memorial to commemorate the bombings and lives lost.