Nagasaki And Hiroshima

 

A US army photographeer was assigned to

capture images of the atom bomb's devastation,

The most compelling was of a young boy carrying

strapped onto his back his dead baby brother,

The photographer followed him as he moved

toward an open trench and slid

into it

the lifeless shell

flames' extinguished hell.

 

But in other cases one needed

no burial place as particles of

the corpse ashes in the air floated.

 

 

 

 

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One of my fondest memories of

One of my fondest memories of my undergrad days was a lecture held at the home of a young assistant professor of History and Asian studies.  At my college, professors of most of the courses were expected to host one evening per course at their homes (if they lived close to campus) with food and beverages provided at departmental expense.  This assistant professor was the most dynamic speak I, and most of my classmates, had ever heard.  (He looked, in those days, like a wild hippy, and the Provost of the college was openly opposed to granting him tenure.  The tenure hearing was attended by so many students---the majority of whom were not History majors---that its location had to be moved to an auditorium, and each time the Provost attempted to speak, he was shouted down by the assembled students.  After such a demonstration, the college's Board of Directors granted tenure, despite the Provost's opinions.)

   At his home, we were supposed to hear a lecture on ancient Japanese history.  However, while being transported to his home, we decided to try to divery the lecture into hearing about the bombing of Hiroshima, which he has extensively researched during his long visits to Japan.  He fell for this ruse, and for over two hours, while the late May sun was sinking in the west, he told us of the events that culminated in the detonation of the bomb over Hiroshima and its effects.  You could have heard a pin drop in the room, as he held us, spellbound (like the wedding guest in Coleridge's Ancient Mariner poem), and, with his words, transported us back to that awful day.  First we were in the Enola Gay with the bombing crew; then we were at ground zero with the victims.  By the time the evening was fully dark, he had given us the most comprehensive summary of the Hiroshima event that most of us were likely to ever encounter.  We talked of it among ourselves for the remainder of the term.  I received, in both courses that I took with him, a C minus, which wrecked the 3.0+ average I had maintained, so that I graduated with a 2.9999999, or something of that nature.  And when he asked me, two decades later, why I had taken courses in a subject on which I had little if any interest, I disclosed to him the kind of reputation hs a speaker that he had, and, according to the students of his that I met in 2000 and 2001, he continued to demonstrate.

   Ironically, my father, who had been a Marine aboard the battleship Nevada, which had been tasked with being the spearhead of an invasionary force against the Japanese main island, learned that he would have been the third Marine to step on to Japanese soil, and was expected to be part of a defensive slaughter, such that his death certificate, and the letter of condolence to his parents, had already been prepared by the commander of the Nevada.  However, three days before the bomb was dropped, the Nevada turned about 180 degrees and began moving, at full speed, away from Japan.  The physicists who had built the bomb had badly overestimated the blast and radioactivity radius, and it was feared that the Nevada might have been adversely affected if it were nearing Japan.  So, while my History professor's lecture made me realize how terrible the bombing was, my father (not my birth father; I mean the father who adopted and raised me, and gave me this great historical surname of which I am most unworthy) was saved by President Truman's decision to proceed with the bombing rather than the invasion.


Enjoy effulgent days, and exquisite nights,

unto the exultations of Heaven.

J9thxciv [fkna, Starward],