Sunday, August 5, 2012

Remembering Hiroshima's "miracle of terror" in Pittsburgh.


As I wrote on July 30, the group Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace is marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, with shadow-making at various spots around the city. These chalk outlines are to represent the casualties of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the effect a nuclear blast has on the people it instantly vaporizes. Unfortunately, the Saturday afternoon event at Southside Works was rained out, so I visited "The Unkillable Human" sculpture on the Northshore Heritage Trail.


Beween the permanent installation there, two outlines were made with bungee cords, with yellow roses placed in the center. The sculpture by Frederick Franck is located basically across the street from Warhola Recycling on Chesboro St. (map). A marker there reads:
At Hiroshima Franck was confronted with the shadow of a human being burned into a concrete wall by the atomic bomb.

The indestructible spirit rises from the ashes.
The Shadow Project's website has information about shadow-making events tomorrow, August 6. This year's events aren't well-received by everyone, as one local stooge noted on the Post-Gazette's August 1st write-up:
If they wouldn't have attacked the US they would have not been bombed! Let us NOT lose sight of that fact!

Here's how the Pittsburgh Press editorialized the bombing of Hiroshima on August 7, 1945:
We read the fantastic figures--power equal to 20,000 tons of TNT, 2000 times the destructive force of the British blockbuster--and our lay minds simply can't comprehend the atomic bomb.

Yet this miracle of terror has been wrought by the human mind. The brains of many scientists, working together, have loosened atomic energy, and the brains of industrial engineers have put it to work. Surely this marks a new epoch, comparable to the first use of metal, the discovery of the wheel principle, the invention of gunpowder, the use of electricity.

How lucky we are that our scientists and the British jointly won this race against the Germans. If the Nazis' long research had produced this bomb first, where would civilization be and where would we be today?

Now it can speed victory over Japan. By so doing, it will save countless numbers of American lives. If the mad militarists of Tokyo had any doubts of the outcome before, the great blast that descended from the skies upon their country last Sunday must have seemed to them the proof of doom.

Now they know what President Truman meant when he said the only alternative to unconditional surrender was prompt and complete destruction of Japan--annihilation literally.
And here's the cartoon that sat atop page 10, using the monkey-like depiction that characterized the Japanese during the war:

Right below that cartoon is a letter to the editor from A.W. Pfalzgraf of the American Legion, which in turn quotes from a letter from Pittsburgh's Cpl. William Wingerson, deploring the discrimination against Japanese-Americans and Japanese-American veterans occuring domestically. It reads, in part:
It is very disillusioning to read of such incidents as the enclosed articles portray (cases of civilian action against Japanese-Americans in this country)---disillusioning and disappointing.

Is this the 'democracy' for which we have been fighting?
. . .
The 100th Battalion did a damn good job, and its members deserve the same honor and respect that is every soldier's due. It must be very demoralizing to think of going home to face desecrated graves, evictions, abuse, threats, etc.

My suggested solution is that the [American] Legion back up and fight for our Japanese-Americans nationally.
More on contemporary local Japanese-American residents a little later this month, hopefully. For now, as I noted last week, in past years (2008, 2011) there have been other pacifist events to commemorate the bombings, although no details have been released just yet for 2012, maybe because local universities are still on summer break.