On Sunday August 5, 2018, I had the pleasure of being able to attend the Interfaith Commemoration of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima. It was held at Judson church located adjacent to Washington Square Park in New York City. The day marked the 73rd anniversary of the bombing.
At this beautiful event, religious leaders from all faiths spoke to the need for humans coming together, regardless of faith, to prevent such another traumatic event from rocking this earth. Given the political field today, their pleas had serious weight.
From the Japanese-American youth choir to the dancers, the night was truly a night of beauty and of hope. The individual who left the greatest impact, however, was a Hiroshima survivor, Tomiko Morimoto West. She was thirteen years old when the bomb dropped on her city. Her whole family was killed immediately except for her grandfather. He died soon after from his injuries and she reflected on her strength at such a young age. Japanese soldiers were collecting bodies and she stood up to them, refusing to let them take him, for she wanted to burn him as per tradition, herself. She recounted, “If I could muster the strength to do that, I could do anything.” And here I sat in the audience, in utter and complete awe of this woman. She was standing in a room in the country which dropped the bomb on her own city, wiping out her whole world. Instead of calling for vengeance or any notion of the sort, here she stood asking everyone in the room, to always remember to love and to treat your family members with kindness. Her strength and her poise was unparalleled and humbling.
In today’s world, where nuclear buttons are boasted and threatened ever so casually over twitter, I couldn’t imagine what these survivors and descendants of survivors from the only nuclear weapons dropped, are feeling. The effects of such weaponry are still felt today and yet, the world seems to not take such devastation seriously.
Overall, I couldn’t have spent a Sunday night better. I encourage anyone reading this to heed Tomiko’s message about reaching for love and kindness. Moreover, I urge people to research the widespread effects of nuclear warfare, before entering rather casual conversations about dropping nukes. Nuclear warfare is the farthest thing from a joke and it must be taken and addressed in an appropriate, grave manner. There is a reason they have only been used in one war; let us work towards keeping it that way.
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