Peace Train: The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima was 76 years ago

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Sadako Sasaki died 10 years after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, exactly 76 years ago today.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, in the summer of 1945, authorized the use of the world’s first atomic bomb. In light of intelligence reports about Japan’s commitment to continue fighting, Truman and his military advisors were determined to use every weapon at their disposal in order to bring the war to an immediate end.

Consequently, neither Truman nor any of his advisors ever debated if the atomic bombs should be used, only how and where they should be used, according to Tyler Bamford, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Sadako was 12 years old when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima and lived for 10 more years. Inspired by ancient Japanese legend that promises a granted wish by the gods to anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes, she folded 1,300 cranes before she died of radiation-induced Leukemia. The cranes then became a symbol of humans yearning for peace.

Several weeks ago, in time for the 2021 commemoration of the Aug. 6, 1945, U.S. atomic bombing of  Hiroshima, a Japanese court ruled that victims of the radioactive “black rain,” who were living beyond the officially recognized contamination zone at the time, should be included in the group considered bomb “survivors” or “Hibakusha” and receive the same benefits.

A Hiroshima high court acknowledged in its July 14, 2021, ruling that many more people suffered as a result of exposure to “black rain” than have been recognized as victims.

“Black rain” was described in a CNN story as a “mixture of fallout particles from the explosion, carbon residue from citywide fires, and other dangerous elements. The black rain fell on peoples’ skin and clothing, was breathed in, contaminated food and water, and caused widespread radiation poisoning.”

According to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda, of the Federation of American Scientists, despite progress in reducing Cold War nuclear arsenals, the world’s combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: There are roughly 13,100 warheads as of early 2021. Of these, nearly 9,600 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which some 3,800 warheads are deployed with operational forces. Up to 2,000 U.S., Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.

Approximately 91 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States, they each have around 4,000 warheads in military stockpiles; no other nuclear-armed state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security, according to the two scientists.

“Sick,” in my opinion. If enough of us say, “No!” the world will back away and ultimately we will be nuclear weapon-free. Join Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 on the back patio at Trident Booksellers and Cafe, 940 Pearl St., Boulder, for a film screening of “Grave of the Fireflies” and discussion. From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, learn how to make origami Peace Cranes on the grass adjacent to the Boulder Farmers Market, near Canyon Boulevard.