[IMC-Audio] mp3 / news article: Hiroshima survivor speaks in Pittsburgh
vincenteirene at gmail.com
Tue Aug 7 23:21:28 PDT 2007
audio of her talk
She remembers a huge, dark cloud, then black rain Hiroshima native recounts
bombing at anniversary vigil
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
By Sara McCune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Yuko Nakamura was only 13 when the atomic bomb fell on her hometown of
Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette photos *Hiroshima survivor Yuko Nakamura, left,
and her translator, Atsuko Franz, pause while Mrs. Nakamura describes the
horrific scene after the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. She was 13 and
living in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped in August 1945.**
Click photo for larger image.*
*Bal Pinguel of Philadelphia, of the Peace Building and Demilitarization
Program for the American Friends Service Committee, listens as Mrs. Nakamura
speaks outside CMU's Software Engineering Institute.**
Click photo for larger image.* She shared her experiences with a small crowd
outside Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute in
Oakland yesterday afternoon in a vigil recognizing the anniversary of the
Hiroshima bombing, which occurred 62 years ago Monday.
The vigil began around 12:30 with the Raging Grannies, a group of
grandmothers who sing protest songs, decked out in black shirts that read
"We Will Not Be Silent." They protested nuclear weapons to the tune of "When
the Saints Come Marching In."
Large white cardboard peace cranes stood on wooden sticks nearby and two
women held up a large sign reading "No More Hiroshima" in black letters.
Then it was Mrs. Nakamura's turn.
With the aid of a translator, she spoke about how she worked in a factory as
many students did in those days to aid the war effort. Mrs. Nakamura made
aircraft parts, in a building she described as a steel shack, with other
students from her all-girl high school.
The students were given a day of rest once a week and on that fateful day in
1945 they went to the beach.
Mrs. Nakamura said the air raid alarms were frequent, but Hiroshima had
never been bombed before, so no one really took this one seriously. The
children and the adults watching them hurried back to the steel building and
took cover. After the alarm stopped, a friend of hers went outside to see
what happened. There was a flash, and the aftershock of the atomic bomb,
dropped roughly five miles away, knocked her backwards and brought down the
building. Glass from broken windows sprayed over the people hiding, taking
out a chunk of her friend's arm.
Mrs. Nakamura managed to crawl out of the rubble, most of which was on fire.
She remembered hearing the prayers of a trapped woman who had been telling
her son to run away as she and others who managed to get out ran for the
underground dugout nearby.
She said the sky was clear, except for one large black cloud. An hour later,
black rain started falling. She said she didn't know what it was, and her
friends feared the Americans had poured gasoline on them and were going to
burn them alive.
She then began to describe what she saw in the rubble -- "Eyes popping out,
skin peeling off people's arms, people trying to escape," she said. The
girls a grade below her had been closer to the hypocenter. All 220 died --
it took some all day.
She was lucky enough not to suffer many of the symptoms the other Hibakusha,
victims of the radiation, were experiencing. She felt quite weak until she
was in her 40s. Her two children are healthy.
She decided to talk about her experiences in Hiroshima about 20 years ago
after watching an anime about her high school during the bombing. The
program showed pictures of those who died from the high school, and one in
particular gave her shivers -- a friend of hers, one of the 220 girls a
grade below her.
"I wanted to be their voice," she explained. "I speak on behalf of the
children. Adults create the mess, and the children have to suffer."
Now 75, this is the first year she has spoken in America on the anniversary
of Hiroshima. She is secretary general of the Kanagawa Atomic Bomb Sufferers
Association. She is also a national council member of Nihon Hidankyo, a
support organization for Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors.
The American Friends Service Committee and the Demilitarize Pittsburgh
program, part of the Thomas Merton Center, sponsored yesterday's vigil at
the Software Engineering Institute, which was chosen because it develops
software for the military. Officials from the institute could not be reached
While the vigil primarily focused on Hiroshima, it was also meant to protest
the development of all nuclear weapons, said Scilla Wahrhaftig, head of the
AFSC's state office.
Benjamin Saalbach-Walsh said he attended the vigil because he wanted to
learn more about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"[Nuclear weapons] aren't as in your face as other [issues], but it needs to
be addressed," said the Washington, Pa., resident.
"We owe [the Japanese] a terrible kind of thank you," said Jon Robison of
Oakland. "Now we know what [nuclear weapons will do] because of their
sacrifice, and I think it's kept us from wiping out the human species."
Mrs. Nakamura mentioned a memorial in Hiroshima that reads "No More
"Pearl Harbor was wrong, Hiroshima was wrong, but I think people are
starting to forget," she said.
The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing is tomorrow.
*(Sara McCune can be reached at smccune at post-gazette.com or 412-263-1122. )*
blast furnace videos:
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