..October 2009 New York..
I wonder what it is like to grow up in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Do the children realize what happened here to their families 65 years ago?
Jet lagged, every morning at 7AM, 2 hours before my first interview with an atomic bomb Survivor I took short walks around the epicenter in Nagasaki. I wandered past the Urakami Cathedral walking up the stumpy rolling hills with school kids catching the public buses. I caught the laughter of 10 year old kids and the louder bantering of teenagers teasing each other. Occasionally saw a kid texting on their cell phone while waiting for a street signal to change.
Every manhole cover on the street in Nagasaki has a star imprinted in the metal. Frequently passed signs and stickers saying…”Nagasaki, the City of Peace.”
I couldn’t help think about the people who were vaporized by the atomic bomb. I was walking on cement that lay on top of ashes and unidentified bones. I was walking on sacred ground.
A city now covers what could be a cemetery. Every atomic bomb Survivor I met had someone in their family who was never found in the carnage of August 9th, 1945. Some vaporized, others burnt to charcoal and ash mixed in with the soil or washed away in the river.
Matsuo-san told me she thinks about saying good-bye to her 11 year old brother on August 9th, 1945. An hour before 11:02AM, when the atomic bomb was dropped. He was walking to work, less than a mile from the epicenter. Never found. Most likely vaporized or turned to ash.
I wonder what it’s like to grow up in these cities. Do they think about what’s beneath their feet when they walk to school?
The entire place had an affect on me. The people, landscape, history, stories, the few remaining heavily damaged fragments of life that barely Survived….
I grew up in a special place. New York is considered one of the capitols of the world. A cross roads of culture and excitement. Growing up in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has to have an affect on people. Whether it’s being aware of the tragedy, the cruelty of life, or the desire to live in a peaceful world.
I don’t know what it’s like growing up in either city. But if I did it would have had a profound affect on me. It did when I was 34 years old.