Reader’s photos: A Nagasaki memorial

August 9, 2020 • 8:30 am

Regardless of whether you think that dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki 75 years ago today actually saved lives by shortening the war, I think we can all agree that it was still a tragedy, snuffing out many lives, including those of children. Here’s a photographic memorial to the bombing contributed by Joe Routon. I’ve indented his words.

Here are three photos that I made a few years when my wife and I were there.
My father, a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, was one of the first American soldiers sent into Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. He stayed there for several weeks, soaking up harmful radiation. Fortunately, it didn’t have any of the lasting deleterious effects on him that were suffered by a good number of his fellow soldiers, many of whom died of cancer.
The Peace Statue in Nagasaki Peace Park is full of symbolism. The right hand points to the sky, reminding us of the danger of nuclear weapons; the left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The closed eyes represent a prayer for the victims. The right leg is in meditation, while the left leg is rooted to the ground, telling us to stand up and help the world.
In the center of the Peace Park is the Hypocenter Park, with a black cenotaph that marks ground zero, the explosion’s epicenter. Concentric circles represent the spreading devastation of the blast.
In the park are many statues and works of art that have been donated by countries all over the world in support of peace. Here is a detail of one.

19 thoughts on “Reader’s photos: A Nagasaki memorial

  1. A poignant reminder. Since January the Doomsday Clock has been set at the nearest to midnight in its 73 year history.

      1. The reason for the re-set in January is given by Wikipedia as: “Failure of world leaders to deal with the increased threats of nuclear war, such as the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the United States and Russia as well as increased tensions between the US and Iran, along with the continued neglect of climate change.”

          1. I can think of a couple close calls that were actually scarier because it took a human second guessing orders and protocols not to hit the button. The Cuban Missile Crisis was scarier for everyone in real time because they all knew about it….

    1. I would say Trump is the most likely cause. Asking the question, what would be worse than having nuclear weapons? Having Trump in charge of them.

      There is a pretty good article in the Post today about the bomb and nuclear technology. One piece of information that was given: During the last 31 years before the nuclear age warfare consumed more than 100 million lives.

  2. I wonder if any of the monuments and public events commemorating the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki specify how WWII in the Pacific came about? For example, do they mention how the Empire of Japan initiated that war by the unprovoked, aggressive invasions of Manchuria (1931), Mongolia (1936), the rest of China (1937, with the Nanjing Massacre inflicting a civilian toll comparable to that at Nagasaki), French Indochina (1940), British Hong Kong and Malaya (1941), and the Philipines (1941)? And, of course, there was that 1941 attack on the neutral US Navy in Hawaii, which brought the USA into the war and which might in retrospect be considered a bit incautious.

    1. Doubtless they don’t (although the neutral US’ oil embargo on Japan was a factor in the Pearl Harbour attack). Nevertheless, the indiscriminate killing of civilians – especially in a country without democracy, and therefore with no say in the decisions of the ruling elite – is to be regretted. The RAF’s fire bombing campaign in (democratic) Germany is equally controversial, of course. In war, I suspect that the golden rule gets perverted into “Do unto others before they do it to you”.

      1. War crimes are fairly ubiquitous. As Wikipedia notes, “War crimes committed by the United States Army in the Philippines include the March across Samar, which led to the court martial and forcible retirement of Brigadier General Jacob H. Smith. Smith instructed Major Littleton Waller, commanding officer of a battalion of 315 U.S. Marines assigned to bolster his forces in Samar, regarding the conduct of pacification, in which he stated the following:

        “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States.”

        Since it was a popular belief among the Americans serving in the Philippines that native males were born with bolos in their hands, Major Littleton Waller asked:

        “I would like to know the limit of age to respect, sir.”

        “Ten years”, Smith responded.

        “Persons of ten years and older are those designated as being capable of bearing arms?”

        “Yes.” Smith confirmed his instructions a second time.

      2. Compared to the 15 million Chinese civilians who died because of Japan and the 20 million Soviet civilians who died because of Germany, these US and British bombing reprisals seem small change. But still, I find it regrettable because we were supposed to be the “good guys.”

  3. Nice memorials. I like how there is a bird perched on the left hand that symbolizes eternal peace. Maybe it’s a dove! Just kidding, it actually looks like a raptor.

  4. Powerful imagery. This is certainly not the only bombing of civilian infrastructure in WWII and I will not second-guess the decisions of generals and Presidents in the 1940s. But I am glad (a) statues like this exist to tell current and future generations not to do the same and (b) whatever proliferation has occurred, no power has used nuclear weapons against either military or civilians since.

    May the lack-of-use bought so dearly last for another 75 years.

Leave a Reply