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Delaney: Hiroshima Anniversary

08/05/10 5:55PM By Dennis Delaney
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(HOST) Tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, an occasion that has taken on personal meaning for commentator Dennis Delaney.

(DELANEY) I want to tell you a story about some real people who lived several decades ago in Japan. Some died on the summer morning of August 6, 1945. Some survived. And some of them - and their descendents - are now part of my son's family.

That summer morning was perfect, sunny and warm, but not too hot. At 7:45 Nenkai Aoyama's mother sent him on his way to school a half hour early. Nenkai was mad at his mom: There was little food for breakfast and his little boy's belly was half empty. But this was wartime and food was scarce.

Nenkai never saw his mom again because at 8:15AM -precisely- she ceased to be, she and her neighbors working a vegetable patch with her. It doesn't seem enough to say that Ms. Aoyama died. She just stopped being. She was vaporized in the tiniest nano second.

Nenkai's mother and her friends were just under the "pika don". "Pika" means a light brighter than the sun; "don" means a roar that overwhelms the loudest thunder. "Pika don" is what the Japanese called the atomic bomb igniting over them at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

In talking about the "pika don" many experts insist that we were in the midst of a hate drenched war, that something had to be done to bring the slaughter to an end.

The man known as the father of the bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, was a brilliant theoretical physicist. The science behind the bomb was primitive but Oppenheimer and his fellow scientists pressed on and succeeded in unleashing unimaginable power by splitting the atom. Once they created the bomb and the "pika don" it birthed, the bottle was uncorked and the genie of nuclear holocaust was set loose forever.

My son Luc is a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy and was deployed to the Yokosuka base in Japan some time ago. There, he met a lovely young Japanese woman, Asako, and one day he phoned us to say they were engaged.

My wife, Sharron and I went to Japan for the wedding and were warmly welcomed by Asako's family, young and old, some survivors of those days. Now Asako and Luc have a little daughter Maya and it is the sweetest sound to hear her call me "grandfather".

So when Hiroshima and the 65th anniversary of the "pika don" are remembered this week, I will think of it not as an abstract and grotesque horror of World War II.  I will see it and feel it in the faces of Asako, Maya, and all my son's Japanese family. I will also wonder if Oppenheimer had known them as I do, as just good people, what different thoughts might have stirred his mind and soul. And I will wish, mightily: "If only he had known them"

(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Dennis Delaney at VPR-dot-net..
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