Archive for the ‘war’ Category

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THE BOMB and CHILDREN OF THE 50s
By David Allen

Twenty years ago
I journeyed to Hiroshima
with my Japanese interpreter
to cover the 50th anniversary
of the atomic bombing
of Hiroshima.

I was stunned by what I saw.
It was a thriving city of more than a million
with only a now hallowed building
that partially survived
the day the city was turned to ashes.
This is where Chiyomi, my translator,
 grew up in the early 50s.

A half world away,
16 years after Hiroshima was leveled,
I was a tow-headed Long Island kid
hiding under my school desk,
hands over my head,
pretending I could survive
a nuclear attack on nearby New York.

Surprisingly, the children of Hiroshima
never experienced that trauma.
“We hardly ever talked about the bomb,”
Chiyomi told me.
“I think the adults — our parents, our teachers — 
tried to prevent the tragedy from touching us.”
Although there are still shadows
of people burned into sidewalks and walls
at the time bomb the Americans called “Little Man”
exploded, Chiyomi said it did not
cast a  shadow on her life.

“With the exception
of the annual memorial,
the bombing was hardly
ever on our minds,” Chiyomi said.
No one talked about it much.
The schools scrubbed
Japan’s Asian aggression clean.
So much time was spent
on ancient Japanese history —
about Shoguns and the
the Kamikazes, intense storms
that smashed two Mongol invasion fleets,
there was little time left for most recent war.

“No one felt threatened, she said.”

We did on Long Island.
Dozens of low-budget horror movies
depicted rampaging nuclear monsters
mostly giant mutated insects,
terrorizing the countryside.

But in Hiroshima, the worst was long over.
One afternoon Chiyomi and I
interviewed a couple who survived
the devastating blast and seriously injured,
somehow  found each other
and never left each other’s side since.
Surrounding us were a dozen
family members, dazed
in  rapt attention.
They had never heard the story before.

People just didn’t talk
about the bomb that scared
and scarred the young me.
But not Chiyomi.

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