Today in History: Hiroshima

Hachiya-HiroshimaDiary-coverThe world witnessed the first wartime use of an atomic weapon on this day 63 years ago when the United States bombed Hiroshima. Dr. Michihiko Hachiya was director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital at the time. He survived the bombing and helped to hold Hiroshima together in the aftermath. Amazingly, he also managed to record daily entries in a personal diary, which UNC Press published for the first time in 1955.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, the Press issued a revised edition of Hiroshima Diary with a new foreword by John W. Dower. In his foreword, Dower says, “This is a remarkable accomplishment, for what we encounter here is an account of the end of a ferocious war that is intimately Japanese and simultaneously transcends national, cultural, and racial boundaries. The diary speaks to the human heart and human condition and does so without artifice.”

Writer Pearl Buck called Hiroshima Diary “a book that we all ought to read in order that we may know what we have done and what will happen in the future if the atomic weapons continue to be used.”

As people gathered at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park today to mark the anniversary, the city’s mayor called on the future president of the United States to support a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.

Indeed, two generations after the Enola Gay dropped the ironically named “Little Boy,” killing 140,000 Japanese people, the American government declares “all options are on the table” regarding a new enemy. We would do well to remember the horrors we humans are capable of inflicting upon one another in anger. And we would do well to remember our humanity.

–ellen