Miyoko Watanabe, a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will speak at 7 p.m. tonight at UNCA’s Karpen Hall.
Watanabe’s talk is part of a reception marking the arrival of a national traveling exhibition, “Hiroshima-Nagasaki: Images and Stories from Eyewitness Accounts.” A delegation from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is scheduled to attend the reception, which is free and open to the public. The museum advocates for the peaceful disarmament of all nations possessing nuclear weapons by increasing citizen awareness of the effects of those weapons.
President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. atomic attacks on Japan near the end of World War II, the first and only use of nuclear weapons in war. The bombs, dubbed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. On Aug. 15, 1945, six days after the Nagasaki bombing, Japan announced its surrender, effectively ending the war.
In a written account of her remembrance of the bombing, Watanabe describes the horrible destruction she witnessed the day of the Aug. 6 Hiroshima bombing.
“As I left the shelter, I saw a boy about junior high age burned and without hair except on the top of his head where he had been wearing a combat cap. He staggered along like a ghost with both hands held out in front of him. The skin on his cheeks had burst open and was dangling down. He was horribly burned and walking barefoot saying, ‘Water please! I’m so hot! I’m burning!’”
Watanabe also pleads for peace.
“Today’s peace is built on the sacrifices of war victims the world over. Wars are the worst possible misfortune. I only hope that we will have the tenderness of heart to feel the pain of others as our own. The voice of Hiroshima is calling for lasting peace.”
The exhibition, which includes graphic photos from before and after the bombing, will be on display in the lobby of Karpen Hall through Aug. 8. A peace vigil and a showing of the film White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 in the Laurel Forum.
Click here to go to The Xpress Files and read Watanabe’s account of the Hiroshima bombing.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor