Man of Peace
The White House announced today that President Obama would, on his upcoming trip to Japan and Vietnam, visit Hiroshima - the Japanese city that was basically annihilated by the first use of atomic weapons directly against people. The bomb, carried and delivered by the crew of the bomber Enola Gay, was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. A couple of days later a second bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. After that, President Truman went on the radio to inform the Japanese government and its people that the third bomb would be dropped down Emperor Hirohito's stovepipe. At that point the Japanese sued for peace.
The White House explained with today's announcement that President Obama was not going to Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic attack, but rather to see and experience the effects of the event. The trip will undoubtedly help to focus the world on the horrors of nuclear weapons.
President Obama beat me to Cuba by nearly a month, but I was in Hiroshima when he was only a child. I visited that historic site way back in the spring of 1972 while I was serving with the Army on Okinawa. I always intended to get back there during my second run on Okinawa (2010-2012), but sadly missed the opportunity. Hiroshima is an amazing place. Surrounding Ground Zero and the famed "Atomic Dome" is an area now called Peace Park, which is populated with monuments to peace from most of the countries of the world. The city has dedicated itself to the pursuit of world peace - and it is very fitting that a U.S. President should finally travel there to experience the passion of that movement.
My own experiences in Hiroshima are detailed in the August 6, 2010, posting of this blog in a piece entitled "Hiroshima, Sixty-Five Years Later." It was an unforgettable experience.
President Obama, thank you for putting Hiroshima back in the news. There is still so much that we can and must learn from that horrific event.