Today, August 9th commemorates 75 years since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki in World War II.
You can view NHK World News’ coverage of the ceremony from the Nagasaki Peace Park here:
This event is very personal to me, however. My grandparents both lived just north of Nagasaki City when the atomic bomb detonated. Even I cannot fully imagine or understand how severe and horrible this must have been to somebody who lived through the bombing and its aftermath.
Thankfully, at that time, my grandmother went to school farther away from the bombing and was largely spared of the effects.
It is important for the experiences of the 被爆者, the survivors of the bombing, to be passed along to others.
I will tell you the story of my grandfather, my お爺さん, on August 9th, 1945. He was 13 years old. (Apologies for any inaccuracies; it has been some time since I originally heard this story.)
Before the bomb was dropped, he was in school, like any other day. Just before the bombing, he went out to the school’s garden to tend to the plants and vegetables. I do not know why he was in the garden at that particular time, but that most likely saved his life. The garden had a strong stone wall on its southern edge, and the bomb detonated only a few miles south of his school.
Even so, he was still knocked out from the force of the atomic bomb. When he came to, he tried to go back inside his school, only to find that many of his classmates and teachers had fared far worse than him. Some had already died or were dying from the effects.
His father (my great-grandfather) was a sort of emergency worker (I do not remember which, he may have been a firefighter, or an EMS, or something else). He was sent to assist near the bombing site, and rescue people. My grandfather’s school’s gymnasium became a sort of emergency shelter for those who were rescued. Many of those brought in were already dead, or suffering from extreme burns or other conditions caused by the bomb and were dying as well. My grandfather tried to assist those in the gymnasium to the extent he could as a 12-year-old boy. I truly cannot imagine how traumatizing it must have been for a child to experience all of the suffering and death that surrounded him.
The war soon ended, and cleanup efforts began. Nagasaki has fully recovered from the bombing.
As for my grandfather, he still lives in the same town north of Nagasaki, which he has lived in all his life. He lives together with his wife (my grandmother), and is relatively strong and healthy, even in his old age. He is a kind, hardworking man who I love with all my heart.
Thank you for reading. I hope that nothing like this happens again in our lifetime, or ever.