It was sixty-five years ago today, just a few minutes past 6 p.m. (CDT), that the first atomic bomb was dropped. Most of the city of Hiroshima was destroyed by “Little Boy,” the nickname for the bomb dropped by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay. By the end of 1945 approximately 140,000 had died because of that one atomic explosion.
Three days later, “Fat Man,” another atomic bomb but with a completely different design was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, and the number of resulting deaths by the end of 1945 was just about half of those who perished in Hiroshima. The number of casualties from the two bombs certainly did not end in 1945.
I still remember the eerie feeling upon arriving in Hiroshima for the first time in 1967 and the terrible sadness in seeing the displays in the peace museum there. (Later, and on several occasions, I visited the peace museum in Nagasaki also.) The picture below is a 180° view of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The “Atomic Dome,” seen in the center left of the image, is the only remaining structure showing the effects of the A-bomb explosion. The original target for the bomb was the "T"-shaped Aioi Bridge seen in the left of the image.
At the ceremony this evening (U.S. time) commemorating the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said he will appeal for a world without nuclear weapons. Actually, he already addressed the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020, a meeting held on July 27-29.
Earlier this year, Catholic Bishop Atsumi Misu of Hiroshima and Mitsuaki Takami, the Catholic archbishop of Nagasaki, publically called on world leaders to reverse the “madness” of the nuclear age by abolishing nuclear weapons. The co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace group, commented, “The urgent message from the Catholic bishops of two cities devastated by these horrific weapons is a cry that must be heard and heeded.”
At the 2010 Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists, a meeting that ended August 1, there was a call for the U.S. Senate to ratify the new Strategic Arms Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The latter was adopted by the U.S. General Assembly in 1996, but it must be ratified by 44 nations. The U.S. is one of nine nations that has not yet ratified that treaty which would ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes.
On this 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this might be a time for many of us to renew our commitment to the work of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America or some similar group working for peace and for nuclear disarmament. By whatever means we choose, I pray that we all can be more actively involved in working for shalom in our world. No More Hiroshima & Nagasaki! (For an eight-minute video with this name, click on this link.)