Hiroshima & Peace Park
September 22nd, 2009 by Kate

Back on the bullet train and speeding west towards Hiroshima… I felt a strong draw to bring the girls there and talk to them about what happened there in 1945. 

 Hiroshima is a big Japanese city set in the middle a beautiful valley laced with rivers.  There are mountains in the distance on three sides and the Seto Sea on the other.  I was surprised at what a pretty city it was.  Not like Paris pretty (the buildings were still big and concrete and boring like in other Japanese cities), but the rivers gave it a presence that was unlike any of the other Japanese cities we have visited.  Nineteen-fifty-looking streetcars buzz around town, sharing the bridges with bikes and mini cars and lots of people walking around looking like they are on vacation.

 Peace Park is located on a long, wide island that runs through the middle of town.  I couldn’t really tell from the post-A-bomb photos if it existed as an island at the time of the blast or if they created it to be a stunning reminder of the horror that took place there.  It is lush and green and full of beautiful sculpture – each one recognizing people who suffered from the blast.  I found the Peace Bell, with its deep vibrating tone, an incredibly moving monument urging peace around the world.  The girls folded paper cranes and left them at the statue honoring the children that died as a result of the blast, and we recounted the story of Sadako Sasaki, the little girl who tried to fold 1,000 cranes before she died of leukemia caused by radiation exposure.  

Hiroshima crane tessa 2

 In the center of the park, in the area directly under where the bomb fell, there is a remarkable collection of sculpture and natural elements that entomb the names of all of the victims of the bombing.  The vista that the sculpture creates frames a view of the iconic visual image of the tragedy, the “Atomic Bomb Dome. It is beautiful and tragic all at the same time.  I felt tremendous sadness and guilt and anger and confusion being there.  I found myself wanting to apologize to all the older Japanese people that were also visiting the park – but in the back of my head remembering my high school history teacher saying “if we hadn’t done it, many more innocent people would have died…” Hiroshima a-bomb dome

 All the inner conflict I was feeling wasn’t lost on Tess.  She got it.  I don’t know if she got the guilt part, but she definitely felt the gravity of events that had taken place here.  Before we came to Hiroshima I really did want the girls to have a better understanding of horror of war – to “get it”, but once we were there I found myself wanting to protect them from this ugly thing for just a little longer. 

 War is complicated, I know.  There were many sides to WWII, many stories, many tragedies both for us and our enemies.  Sadly, we seem to make the same mistakes over and over again.  But a few days ago in Hiroshima, I stood with my kids and rang a giant bell and re-committed to myself that I would work towards bringing peace to the parts of my world that I touch, and teach my children that they have the choice to do that too.

4 Responses  
Pat and Duff writes:
September 25th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Your adventures sound amazing…I can empathise with you being at the Dome in Hiroshima…I’m so thrilled that you’re teaching the girls the reality of war…You know that daddy was in the Pacific during WWIII and that while he, like so many in the war realized that the war would have lasted years longer with more deaths, daddy never got over the sadness of bombing innocent people. It’s amazing that for someone that was a career marine…he never believed war was an answer. We think of you often and love reading the blogs.

grandma eb writes:
September 26th, 2009 at 8:34 am

Kate that was beautiful…I am so proud of you.

Nana Anita writes:
September 28th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I’m in Sarasota, Florida with my friends, John and Greta Inman. Greta simply said,”amazing what your son and family are doing.” We just had dinner with our Switzerland friend Ingrid and grandson Nicklous. I can’t wait for Ingrid to see your blogs tomorrow before we travel north to Palmetto, Fl. to see the puppies in training to become seeing eye dog companions. That’s our trip, nothing to match yours. Siesta Key Beach was wonderful today for Nicklous. Warm water, lots of pelicans, a couple fishing boats ….so hope his holiday travels like our grandkids are taking in–good. Love to you 4

Tiffany Scharn writes:
September 30th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Summer before last, when Jesse and I were in Honolulu, we made a special excursion to Pearl Harbor on our last day on the island. We were sad our week vacation was over and had done many fun trips enjoying life and celebrating our vacation. During the pre-tour movie, the boat ride to the memorial and the moments we spent remembering those who lost their lives Jesse totally ‘got it’ and asked so many questions that I wanted to save for just a few more years too. Very intense and quite an experience to say the least. Simply heart-breaking.

Thanks for the post regarding the end result but I tend to agree with your history teacher on this one… but of course pray for peace for all.

Miss you tons! xoxo

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