History · Personal Essay · World War II

Seventy Bells for Hiroshima

2015-08-05 19.00.58

August 5 at 7:15 PM was August 6 at 8:15 AM in Japan. At that time seventy years ago, the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima.2015-08-05 18.53.20

Was the bomb the least evil means the Americans could have employed to end World War II? There are intelligent points of view from various sides. Among other considerations, there’s evidence that if the alternative plan had gone forward, with the Allies invading Japan’s home islands, more than 100,000 Allied prisoners of war would have been summarily executed. But dropping the Hiroshima bomb directly killed an estimated 68,000 people, and its twin in Nagasaki (11:02 AM on August 9) another 38,100.

So let us agree that whatever the motivations and effectiveness of the bomb, its use was an unimaginable human tragedy. Survivors from both sides of the war have raised righteous voices for peace and disarmament ever since.

A Muskogee song praising the defenders of peace
A Muskogee song praising defenders of peace

So at 7:15 PM on August 5 I went along to Strawberry Fields in Central Park to listen to some good words and songs about peace and to ring a bell seventy times – one small sound for each year without nuclear war since that hideous week in 1945. The event was organized by these folks. Here are my pictures.