Seventy Years of Hiroshima, and My American Friend

Personal. Too personal.
Personal. Too personal.

I hang my head in shame.

On August 6, 1945, Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

An estimated 80,000 men, women and children instantly died. Many others died of burns and wounds later. Many more died of cancer and other illnesses directly related to the radiation the bomb created.

Japan and U.S. were locked in a gruesome war, and the Japanese army was doing inhumane barbarity especially on the Chinese they attacked. The Allied Forces led by U.S., Britain and U.S.S.R kept fighting a hellish World War II with the Axis Powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan. The bomb made Japan surrender quickly. Second World War, however, had ended three months ago, when Hitler committed suicide in Germany.

This is history we practically all know. Just the same way everybody knows about the Holocaust.

But U.S. never apologized for using atom bombs on innocent civilians in Hiroshima on August 6 and then on Nagasaki on August 9. Nowhere in the history of mankind, such a massive, catastrophic genocide happened when a country used its horrific, untested, unprecedented killing powers to knowingly, purposefully, deliberately kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people so massively, so instantly.

All over the world, people condemn the barbarity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is truly an annual day of condemnation. I remember, when I grew up in Calcutta, the first time I heard about it, I was frozen. I thought, how could it have happened? Why did they kill thousands of innocent children who had nothing to do with the war?

Then, after coming to America, I learned more about the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and got angrier deep inside. I joined the peace movement, and learned some more.

But America has a different take on the subject. Not just the powers in America. The ordinary people, many of whom are highly educated. Some of these people are otherwise nonviolent, peace-loving, decent people. But they have a strange perception about atom-bombing and mass-killing in Japan.

(And of course, the younger generation neither knows, nor cares about such “old” history. Seventy years later, America has managed to sweep it successfully under the rugs. Unlike the Holocaust. Everybody in America knows about the Holocaust.)

American media did not disclose the actual impact of the bombing.
American media did not disclose the actual impact of the bombing. General MacArthur censored it.

I had once spoke with a learned, very liberal and kind science professor about this subject. I lived in Albany, New York at that time. I was staying in his house for about a month, before my family joined me. The conversation came up, and I challenged him to take a position on it. He said, he would strongly support using the A-bomb on civilians.

I asked why. He said, because the war was getting out of control, and America needed to end it swiftly.

I said, but at the expense of 80,000+ innocent human lives who had nothing to do with the war? School children, teachers, doctors, nurses, mothers, grandmothers…all included?

He said, it was unfortunate, but hey, didn’t it end the war? He got irked that I kept pushing him on the subject.

When I heard his response — a rather thoughtful, informed response and not an angry redneck response — a knot swelled up in my throat. Possibly, a tear welled up in my eyes. I stopped talking to him, and left the conversation.

That’s all I could do. I am a nonviolent person myself. I don’t want to kill or hurt anybody.

Japan has gone nonviolent too. They have not resorted to violent, terrorist revenge on America.

I am glad they didn’t. And that’s why I am on the side of the innocent of Japanese men, women and children who perished on that fateful day.

You will always be in my prayers.

I truly apologize for what the U.S. did to you.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

Related reading: The Hiroshima Myth

Weep. Remember. Apologize.
Weep. Remember. Apologize.

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