I'm an American. That much is probably pretty clear in my manner of speaking, my ideals and methodology, and if you know me in real life - my often blunt tactlessness. I'm proud, too. Maybe not as proud as, say, Lee Greenwood or Hillary Clinton. But I know very well the oportunities I have been afforded, the things I take for granted that other people only wish for. But every once in a while, my American pride makes me sad. Because there are more than a few points in American history that are not nice, or pretty. Today I'd like to talk about one of those.
The last time I visited Japan, I had the opportunity to visit the Nagasaki Bomb Museum and peace park. (The funny pooping dog sign? Peace Park.)It was a sobering and educational experience to say the least.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks during World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States at the order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. After six months of intense firebombing of 67 other Japanese cities, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on Monday August 6, 1945, followed on August 9 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. These are to date the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.
The Nagasaki Bomb Museum serves to educate those of us who did not live through the events of WWII. There are displays of the rich culture of Nagasaki before the blast, firsthand accounts from the destruction, interviews and writings from survivors outlining the horrors of the aftermath of the bomb. There is also a large portion of the museum dedicated to educating people about nuclear weapons with a large display of where all the weapons in the world are located. This pictoral display was particularly sad, as the US has 2,000 more available nukes than the next leading nuclear power (Soviet Union) and 10,000 more than anyone else. (Non-pictoral table HERE.)
There are also many artifacts from the blast. This bust of the Virgin Mary was on the front gate of the Urakami Catholic Church when the bomb exploded. It was dug from the ashes, and is now displayed in a newly built church.
The most amazing part of the museum to me is the strength of the people who survived the blast and their struggles just afterwards. Many survived by almost miraculous means, hiding behind trees or walls or crouching, faces on the floor. There is a portion of the Bomb Museum website dedicated to the trees that have survived the blast, like this one - which saved it's owner Emiko Taira from the blast, and the walls of buildings like the Urakami Tenshudo Church.
I am proud to be an American. And I am glad that I have visited this important place, so that I may hopefully learn from past history. May we never repeat it.