our homes were made of wood, so fire would spread from one house
to the next. We were making breaks between homes, said
Matsubara, now seventy-one, as she told her story at Emorys
Woodruff Library. My best friend suddenly shouted, and
I could hear the sound of a plane. I looked up and high in the
sky, there was white smoke trailing behind the plane. Then there
was a flash and explosion beyond description. I went unconscious,
and bright morning turned into night.
first atomic bomb to be used on a populated area had been dropped
by an American B-29 and exploded over the city at 8:15 a.m.
with the force of fifteen thousand tons of TNT. A mushroom cloud
billowed into the air, spreading skyward.
unprecedented show of military mightthe end result of
the highly secretive and costly Manhattan Project
initiated to defeat the Germans and their allies during World
War IIhas become a lasting symbol of the horrors of war.
By December 1945, about 140,000 people had died in Hiroshima
from the bombing or the resulting radiation; thousands more
died in the years following from related illnesses and cancers.
the destruction of Hiroshima and, three days later, Nagasaki,
serves as a powerful inspiration for working toward peace.
cant respond to violence with violence and get anywhere.
We must cut the chains of retaliation as fast as we can,
said Minoru Hataguchi, director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Museum. The survivors try to forgive in order to show
the world that the only way to eliminate hatred is love.
fall, the Woodruff Library hosted the Peace Museums traveling
exhibition, Searching for Peace: The Experience of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, which tells the story of the bombings through
poems and drawings by survivors, panel photographs of the destruction
and the victims, and charred, melted artifacts from the cities.
Hataguchi and Matsubara spoke at the University in September
as part of the opening ceremony of the exhibit, which was sponsored
by Emorys East Asian Studies program and the Institute
of Comparative and International Studies.
father was among those killed in the Hiroshima bombing. All
I have of him is the pocket watch and belt buckle he was wearing,
says Hataguchi, whose mother was two months pregnant with him
at the time. My father never knew of my existence. Until
I was twenty, I really hated the U.S. But I realized you cant
be happy if you hold hatred inside of you.
who has spent her life speaking around the world as a survivor,
captures the aftermath of the bombing in her vivid artwork,
which depicts burned and wounded children crying for help and
bodies floating in pools of water.
I woke, both my hands were swollen and my skin was peeling off.
I had burns on my face, too. I wanted to go home. The only clothes
left on me were underwear, Matsubara said. Someone
called my name, but they were burned so badly I couldnt
father, who later died of cancer, was a firefighter who was
called into the city to help. Matsubara, on the verge of death
from radiation poisoning, stayed with a neighbor who had taken
shelter in a cave. Seven months later, she returned to school,
with scars covering her face and arms.
many years, I was discriminated against by my own society. I
couldnt get a job, no one wanted to marry me, she
said. No one would even sit by me on the train, for fear
that I was contaminated.
1953, Matsubara had plastic surgery that corrected the worst
of the scars. She also has had surgery for cancer.
past continues to haunt me. We survivors have not escaped the
war, nor will we ever, she told the hushed crowd. But
I must tell my story so that atomic bombs will never be used
again. Human beings have to learn the lessons of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. The survivors are dying. We must now pass the torch
of hope and peace to you.M.J.L.