They say that history is written by the victor. In my experience, history is far too often hidden by the victor. You mightn’t know exactly how many people died in Chernobyl. You might not even know that Chernobyl is in the Ukraine. There’s little doubt, though, that you’re aware of the disaster and the devastating effects of the immediate and longer aftermath. This is mostly because it happened in the old U.S.S.R. and the west made sure you knew the extent of the damage that resulted. The west cared not about the people of the Ukraine. They cared very much about victory in the cold war.
Today marks a historic anniversary. Sixty five years ago today, Harry Truman, the president of the united states, sent the enola gay to drop the world’s first nuclear bomb on a highly populated city in Japan, a country that had so callously and cowardly attacked them. The city was dense with military supplies and resources and even more so with innocent human beings. What kind of psychology underlies the naming of this bomb the ‘little boy’? Astonishing, right? At a little after eight in the morning approximately eighty thousand souls lost their lives. Many of them instantly disintegrated. Casualties are estimated at between one hundred and two hundred thousand lives directly from radiation. The radiation contributed to illness among the newborn for generations. Of course it did, somebody dropped an atomic bomb there. Where? A good few hundred kilometres from Tokyo.
Did you know that? Have you ever considered the fall out from these bombs? Not in the way that you’re quite aware of Chernobyl, right? The information was always there. Right?
Today the world is rifling towards a nuclear-restricted state. We certainly need to deal with the crazy men in Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. It gives me hope that successive presidents of the United States are at least attempting to denuclearise the military. But I still fear that my children’s world will be forever wounded by what looks ever increasingly likely to be a third world war.
President Obama today sent a representative of his government to Hiroshima for the memorial service. The impact of this extraordinary gesture should not be underestimated or lost, no matter what Paul Tibbet’s son declared today.
You were aware, of course, that an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and contributed massively to the end of the Second World War in the pacific. You were likely taught of this incident, depicted as a glorious victory. There are lessons we should learn from both great wars. And they are lessons of persons perished. We should never again let this happen.
In a few days time another anniversary will take place. Maybe you’ll take a minute to remember the people of Nagasaki. Don’t think about mushroom clouds. Or glorious victories. Think about a similar number of our fellow humans dead. Disintegrating. Imagine it was your people. Your family. Just maybe, if ever our world leaders attempt to do this again, you’ll join me in saying no.
In remembrance of all souls lost during each and every war that has been fought in our world. May our children reach a place where lives are not lost in this fashion.