Lessons Learnt?

I am crying tonight. No I don’t have PMS. And no, it’s nothing Damien did. But I feel it has a lot to do with Damien, and with his generation. He doesn’t understand why I am so upset and I cannot explain to him the scale of the event and why it has made me sad. But if I can somehow make him understand how huge this was, maybe it will stay in his mind and he’ll remember it when he’s older.
I have just watched a documentary that I taped a couple of nights ago- I love documentaries, but this one is making me very heart sore (and I thought I was jaded).
Today is August 6th 2005, and it’s been sixty years to the day since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by a B29 bomber, the Enola Gay. The plane taking off from Tinian Island was filmed and photographed as if it was part of a movie premier. They knew what they were carrying. Three hours from Japan the Enola Gay was met by scientific and photographic escort planes. At about the same time another B29 flew over Hiroshima to check the weather, triggering an air raid warning. When the weather plane had turned around, the people of Hiroshima came out of hiding (about an hour later) believing there was no more threat. They went about their business.
There was no opposition, no air defense of Hiroshima.
It was four ton bomb with the equivalent power of about 67M sticks of dynamite. It was so heavy the plane battled a little to take off.
At about 8:15am, roughly 45 seconds after it was dropped, a 4000 degree Celsius fireball turned living beings to carbon or vaporized them instantly. People and things left only their shadows behind. Then the shockwave turned everything else into shrapnel. There was no more sun shine. Everything was just smoke, fire and corpses. No-one knows exactly how many people died, tens of thousands simply vanished. Thousands more were injured, burned, trapped in rubble. Almost nothing was left standing. Then the black rain fell. The smoke and dust rising into the atmosphere came down again in radioactive rain drops big enough to hurt when they hit you. The people in Hiroshima, desperate for water, drank this rain.
There was a Japanese woman (she died in 2002) who told her story* about how her peaceful breakfast with her husband and two daughters ended with her having to listen to her one surviving daughter scream and cry in pain, trapped under rubble and burning to death, begging for her mother to help her, and her mother unable to rescue her. How does a mother survive that? How do you continue living your life?
Another man, a doctor, was returning to the city from four miles away after being blown off his feet by the shockwave. He told of “something” approaching him out of the city (still three miles away), and how it took him some time to realise it was a human being, burnt black and skinless.
‘Scuse me for a bit* need to compose myself.
Okay I’m back.
There were four Japanese cities including Hiroshima that had been deliberately avoided by the allied bombers so they could measure the effect of the atomic bomb on a city* I find that sort of forward planning incomprehensible. And when the message was read by President Truman in the officer’s mess on board the Augusta, there was cheering and clapping. They were sure Japan would now surrender and war would be over, saving many more thousands of allied soldiers from death by avoiding an invasion of Japan. But Japan didn’t surrender. Three days later, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, 50 000 people died. Japan surrendered. The war was over. Everyone was happy. Everyone was going home.
And then radiation sickness kicked in, killing thousands more- but no one knew what it was. The American scientists who developed the bomb knew about the radiation- but not about the unforeseen and unanticipated scale of the disease.
So, was it really necessary to drop the bomb? Or was it an experiment by the US to test the results of large scale radiation? If they’d known the scale of the destruction would they have dropped it anyway? The debates and arguments rage on.
Now we need to make sure our children learn from our mistakes.
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” ~ Robert Oppenheimer.