It was 8.16am as their children walked to school when the B29 Enola Gay expelled the experimental atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy. As the beautiful city incinerated under a toxic mushroom cloud, the co-pilot Robert Lewis scrolled in his log My God, what have we done?
I feel numb standing here on the exact spot that changed the course of human history – Ground Zero Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a city the size of Adelaide and I am feeling overwhelmed recalling the hundreds of thousands that were killed or maimed. Behind me shakily stands the spooky skeleton of one of the last remaining buildings, the Genbaku Dome.
Heads bowed, we shuffle towards the nearby Peace Park Museum to pay our respects. It houses all the suffering and sins from that awful 6 August 1945 morning. Here, the walls are doused with thousands of photos and firsthand accounts, which once seen can never be unseen. The ugly reality of a lifetime of deformity inflicted from radiation, burns, cancer, poisoning and trauma. The lucky ones died instantly. The stain of Hiroshima has seeped through the generations. I was warned this would be raw and tender. Nothing prepares for such emotional disfigurement.
It is awfully quiet in here; one can hear a tear drop on these shiny floorboards. That is until a lady near me starts reading out loud some of the inscriptions:-
‘It hurts! Water! Help me Mother! I don’t want to die!’
‘My son, where are you? I am sorry I can’t save you.’
‘The corpses flooded the rivers; I just look for my child.’
‘Each time I see a girl on the street I wonder “Is this Chiyoko?” I wish she would run out and throw herself into my arms saying “Mom”
Through misty eyes I read about the thousands of children who were orphaned and had to fend for themselves. Many were stolen and sold. It ensured a generation who hated grownups and Americans. Some say the atomic bomb was payback from Japans slaughter at Pearl Harbour. Or perhaps Americans were flexing their atomic muscles in front of Russia. America claim justification of the bomb to shorten WW2 and ultimately save lives. Japan claim they were going to surrender anyway. The defaced children had no claim.
The bomb did stop the war instantly. A city that is easily the saddest place I have been. I pray that every soul can rest in peace and that clear blue skies can one day return for the people of Hiroshima.