“Each person had a name. Each person was loved by someone. Let us ensure that their deaths were not in vain.” – Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombings, 1945.
One cannot even begin to imagine, let alone describe, what transpired in Hiroshima on the morning of 6 August 1945 as an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was dropped on the city. The Hibakusha, or survivors, were the ones left straggling among the remains of their city and its dead, with unimaginable scars and untreatable diseases. But the real horror began when it became clear that no amount of help would be able to undo the devastation caused by the bomb for decades to come.
This Hiroshima Day serves as the 78th reminder of the destructive power of atomic weapons and the legacy of human suffering, environmental damage, and moral dilemmas it leaves behind. Read on to know more.
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What is Hiroshima Day?
Every year, Hiroshima Day is observed to commemorate the victims and survivors of the atomic bombings by the United States in 1945. This day also marks the world’s first and only use of nuclear weapons, which killed over 140,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more injured and affected by radiation. It is also a day of promoting peace and disarmament to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy.
When is Hiroshima Day Observed?
Hiroshima Day is observed every year on 6 August in Hiroshima and around the world. Another event named Nagasaki Day is also observed on 9 August, marking the dropping of “Fat Man”, another atomic bomb that wreaked similar havoc on the city of Nagasaki three days later.
Hiroshima Day: Facts and Figures
Here are some facts on the impact and aftermath of the Hiroshima bombings in 1945:
- On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m. local time, a US B-29 bomber called Enola Gay released an atomic bomb called Little Boy over the city of Hiroshima
- The bomb detonated at an altitude of 580 meters (1,900 feet) above the city, and the explosion was equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT
- In June 1945, Hiroshima had a population of 255,260. About 80,000 people, or 27% of the total population, died immediately or soon after the blast. Many more died later from radiation exposure
- The bomb’s blast, heat, and radiation destroyed most of the city’s buildings and infrastructure and caused fires that lasted for days
- The survivors, or hibakusha in Japanese, endured severe burns, wounds, radiation sickness, cancers, and other diseases. They also faced social stigma, discrimination, and psychological trauma
- The oleander is the official flower of Hiroshima because it was the first plant to blossom again after the atomic bomb blast in 1945
- The Flame of Peace in Hiroshima has been burning since 1964 to honour the victims and will only be put out when all nuclear weapons are eliminated from the world and there is no nuclear threat to the Earth
- For decades, the mayor of Hiroshima sent letters of protest every time a nuclear test was carried out, as a plea to stop using nuclear weapons
- The atomic bombing of Hiroshima raised ethical questions about the use of nuclear weapons and their impact on humanity and nature. Some argue that the bombing was necessary to end the war quickly and save lives on both sides. Others contend that the bombing was immoral, unjustified, and violated international law and human rights. The debate continues to this day, as does the threat of nuclear war
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Hiroshima Day: Activities and Events
Being a day of remembrance, reflection, and action for peace and disarmament, Hiroshima Day is observed in Hiroshima and around the world with various events and activities, such as:
- Ceremonies at the peace memorials, where the names of the deceased are read aloud and paper lanterns are floated on the rivers.
- A minute of silence at 8:15 a.m., the exact time when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.
- Peace marches, rallies, vigils, concerts, exhibitions, lectures, and workshops to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of nuclear weapons and the need for their abolition.
- Messages and speeches from political leaders, religious figures, civil society organizations, and survivors of the bombings, known as hibakusha in Japanese.
- Prayers and expressions of sympathy and support for the hibakusha and their families.
Hiroshima Day Quotes
The devastation of Hiroshima provoked outrage from every corner of the world, including some well-known personalities of that time. Here’s how they reacted to the Hiroshima genocide:
“A thousand paper cranes. Peace on Earth and in the Heaven.” – Sadako Sasaki
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” – Albert Einstein
“Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.” – Pablo Picasso
“What has kept the world safe from the bomb since 1945 has not been deterrence, in the sense of fear of specific weapons, so much as it’s been memory. The memory of what happened at Hiroshima.” – John Hersey
“Dropping those atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime.” – George Wald
“Japan learned from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the tragedy wrought by nuclear weapons must never be repeated and that humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist.” – Daisaku Ikeda
Hibakushas’ Fight Against The Use of Nuclear Weapons
Over the years, hibakushas have actively participated in global efforts to dissuade the use of nuclear weapons by the world powers. Having seen and felt the impact of the mass destruction caused first-hand, success came in 2017 in the form of the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”. But for them, this is just the first step toward abolishing the use of these weapons and establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world.
To learn more about the Hibakushas’ ongoing efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, you can read their stories and testimonials online on websites like Hibakusha Stories and the 1945 Project. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum also serves as an excellent source of information on the topic.
We hope that this blog helped you understand everything about Hiroshima Day, including what it is, when it’s observed, facts and figures, activities and events, and quotes related to the day. To stay updated on upcoming trends and events, keep following Leverage Edu.