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Saturday, August 6 is the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

It is sometimes claimed that Hiroshima was appropriate revenge for Pearl Harbor. But Pearl Harbor was a military target and Hiroshima was definitely not.

The victims of Pearl Harbor were almost entirely military personnel. The victims of Hiroshima were mostly civilians: women, children and old people. The Hiroshima dead outnumbered the Pearl Harbor dead by a ratio of at least 30 to 1. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was clearly a violation of international law, which requires strict separation between combatants and civilians.

It is imperative to remember Hiroshima for at least four reasons.

First, we must recognize the enormous destructiveness of nuclear weapons, which if unleashed, could annihilate all human and animal life on this planet.

Second, we must comprehend the terrible danger posed by existing inventories of nuclear weapons (foremost in Russia and the United States), a danger which is punctuated by frequent threats to use these hellish armaments.

Third, we must understand that our own country is very capable of criminal deeds. This ought to inspire some degree of humility before lampooning other nations of evil doing.

Fourth, remembering Hiroshima should emphasize the urgent necessity of ending the Ukraine War, which poses the greatest danger of nuclear disaster since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963.

In 1955, the Turkish poet Nâzim Hikmet wrote the following heartbreaking poem about a 7-year-old girl who died in Hiroshima.

Dead Girl

By Nâzim Hikmet

I come and stand at every door

But no one hears my silent tread.

I knock and yet remain unseen

For I am dead, for I am dead.

 

I’m only seven, although I died

In Hiroshima long ago.

I’m seven now as I was then.

When children die, they do not grow.

 

My hair was scorched by swirling flame.

My eyes grew dim; my eyes grew blind.

Death came and turned my bones to dust

And that was scattered by the wind.

 

I need no fruit, I need no rice.

I need no sweets, nor even bread.

I ask for nothing for myself

For I am dead, for I am dead.

 

All that I ask is that for peace

You fight today, you fight today

So that the children of the world

May live and grow and laugh and play.

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