It was on August 9 sixty-six years ago that Fat Man, the second atomic bomb to be used in war, was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.
Through the years I have been to Nagasaki many times, and two or three times on 8/9. One of the most memorable times was in 1982, when my family and I went to Nagasaki just three days after I had been stabbed (and which I wrote about here).
(There were those who thought I should have stayed home to nurse my wounds, but I am never much inclined to change plans. We put many of the get-well-soon flowers received from Japanese friends in the refrigerator and set out for Nagasaki to do what we had planned.)
Late Sunday afternoon on August 8, 1982, I attended the World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs, which had been held the first time in Hiroshima in 1955. Conferences have been held regularly since that first one, including this year on August 6 in Hiroshima and on August 9, in Nagasaki.
Then on that Monday morning we sat in the hot sun with hundreds and hundreds of Japanese people, remembering the death and destruction caused by Fat Man 37 years earlier at 11:02 a.m.
The previous morning we had attended worship at the Nagasaki Baptist Church. I don’t remember when the service began then, but in recent years the Sunday morning service is scheduled to start at 11:02 each week.
There was something notably new at this year’s Nagasaki activities. The Japan Times reported on August 8 that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo had announced the day before that on Tuesday (8/9) the U.S. would for the first time send a representative to Nagasaki’s annual peace memorial ceremony marking the 1945 atomic bombing of the city.
James Zumwalt, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Japan, said regarding his upcoming visit, “I am honored to be the first U.S. representative to attend the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki, and to express my respect for all the victims of World War II. The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Japan to advance President Obama's goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons.”
The August 9 events in Nagasaki are held in Peace Park, which includes the 10-meter-tall Peace Statue (pictured below) created by sculptor Seibou Kitamura from Nagasaki Prefecture. The statue’s right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The impressive statue was completed and erected in 1955, ten years after the bomb killed about 75,000 people and injured about the same number.
The ceremonies held in memory of the victims of the atomic bombs of the past are over for another year. The hard task of working for the elimination of nuclear weapons in the world still lies ahead.