Nuclear Weapons

The only nuclear weapons ever used

This year marked the 65th anniversary of the days the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th, 1945. Over 55,000 people from 73 countries attended the record-breaking ceremonies, including a US representative, incredibly, for the first time in history.

ABC News tells the story of a survivor named Mikiso Iwasa in the aftermath of the Hiroshima boming:

Mikiso Iwasa says August 6th, 1945 began like any other day. “It was a hot summer day, and the cicadas were singing,” said Iwasa. Then the sound changed.

“We heard the sound…from the north and the children screamed. It’s a plane! It’s a plane!,” he recalled.

During that day in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, survival rested solely on Iwasa believes he survived the atomic bomb dropped out of the U.S. B-29 plane, named the Enola Gay, only because he was sheltered directly behind his home.

While then seven-year-old Michiko Kodoma’s classmates played outside, she went inside her wooden elementary school that day, to take her seat. Suddenly she saw a light.

“I saw a bright blast, and I saw yellow and silver and orange and all sorts of colors that I can’t explain. Those colors came and attacked us, and the ceiling beams of the wooden school along with the glass from the window pane all shattered and blew away all at once.”

“[There were] people whose eyeballs had popped out their sockets. There were those who held their babies – burnt black; they themselves had no skin. There were those whose intestines had come out of their bodies, and confused they struggled to put them back in.”

After the blast, Kodoma’s father found her and carried her to safety on his back. Together, they tried to save her older sister, but here injuries were too severe.

“Three days later, she leaned on me and passed away,” Kodoma said.

Unlike Mikiso Iwasa and the other Hiroshima survivors, the atrocities of Nagasaki were “forgotten from the very start, thanks to a blatant act of press censorship.” Greg Mitchell of The Nation reveals the true story of Nagasaki:

Nagasaki, which lost over 70,000 civilians (and a few military personnel) to a new weapon sixty-five years ago today, has always been The Forgotten A-Bomb City. No one ever wrote a bestselling book called Nagasaki, or made a film titled Nagasaki, Mon Amour. Yet in some ways, Nagasaki is the modern A-bomb city. For one thing, when the plutonium bomb exploded above Nagasaki it made the uranium-type bomb dropped on Hiroshima obsolete. In fact, if it had not exploded off-target the death toll in the city would have easily topped the Hiroshima total.

Mitchell tells the story of George Weller, the first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the bombing. His articles never reached the public because of Washington’s strict censorship. Fortunately, the articles were found after his death and published in 2005. These excerpts show the gruesome effects of the atomic bomb:

He declared that the bomb was “a tremendous, but not a peculiar weapon,” and said he spent hours in the ruins without apparent ill effects. He did note, with some regret, that a hospital and an American mission college were destroyed, but pointed out that to spare them would have also meant sparing munitions plants.

In his second story that day, however, following his hospital visits, he would describe “Disease X,” and victims, who have “neither a burn or a broken limb,” wasting away with “blackish” mouths and red spots, and small children who “have lost some hair.”

A third piece, sent to MacArthur the following day, reported the disease “still snatching away lives here. Men, women and children with no outward marks of injury are dying daily in hospitals, some after having walked around three or four weeks thinking they have escaped.

“The doctors…candidly confessed…that the answer to the malady is beyond them.” At one hospital, 200 of 343 admitted had died: “They are dead—dead of atomic bomb—and nobody knows why.”

He closed this account with: “Twenty-five Americans are due to arrive September 11 to study the Nagasaki bomb site. Japanese hope they will bring a solution for Disease X.” To this day, that solution for the disease—and the threat of nuclear weapons—has still not arrived.

Consider sharing these stories with your friends to remember this anniversary, and reaffirm the commitment to rid the world of these weapons.

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