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What can happen while you change trains

August 6, 2015

HiroshimaTrainEarlier today I watched a short video about the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima—one of many that have found their way online to mark the 70th anniversary of the defining moment in human history: the moment when humankind acquired weaponry that could bring history itself to an end.

I think this video and two others that have come my way over the past couple of weeks are especially worth a few minutes of your time:

The documentary I just mentioned is called “Hiroshima 70 Years Later” and was made by independent filmmaker Jesse Barrett-Mills.

“No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis: Ban nuclear weapons!,” is a new campaign video that has just been produced by ICAN.

An animation called “The Nuclear Age in Six Movements” was produced by Kathleen Sullivan and her incredibly creative colleagues at Hibakusha Stories.

The point of making and watching these videos…and revisiting the events of August 6 and August 9, 1945…and writing and reading blogs like this one year after year, is to remind ourselves that somehow—against all the odds—we still have a chance and we still have a choice. Global warming may be breathing down our necks, but so far we’ve managed to escape nuclear winter. So far.

Since I know who my readers are, it’s safe to say your inboxes and your Facebook pages and your Twitter feeds are awash in messages about campaign activities around the world to mark the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries. Those activities are an essential antidote to the poison of the nuclear age, and we won’t achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world without them.

Reflection, however, is at least as important as action. We also owe it to the Hibakusha and to ourselves to stop for at least a moment or two and let the whole unbearable meaning of the atomic bombings sink in…again.

Setsuko Thurlow survived the Hiroshima bombing. Thousands of her high school classmates did not. When Setsuko speaks about her experience, she displays a long yellow banner with the names of all the seventh and eighth graders who woke up that morning to help clear fire lanes and were dead—incinerated—by 8:15 am. Setsuko wants people to stop and remember that every one of these children had a name and a life that was criminally cut short in the first nuclear war—that 70,000 dead means one human life taken 70,000 times over.

Jesse Barrett-Mills interviews a Hiroshima survivor who recounts the story of a friend who had arrived at Hiroshima Station mere minutes before the bombing and needed to change trains. To get to his platform, he had to walk through a tunnel under the tracks. He heard an “unearthly noise,” and when he emerged from the tunnel, the city that had been there only a moment earlier was gone.

Substitute your home for Hiroshima. Then your country. Then the world. Let it sink in.

One Comment
  1. August 6, 2015 9:14 am

    We need to empower people of the world to hold their political leaders to account as to ALL the effects of nuclear weapons.

    Humanity cannot endure another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

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