Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Another remembrance day

Not a comparably large number of people are able to claim to be survivors of this mass-hushing of lives in the flicker of time. Exactly three weeks after the testing of the first atomic bomb (Fat Man), the Enola Gay dropped what would - in 57 seconds - be only the second atomic-bomb explosion in history at 8:15 Hiroshima time: "Little Boy."

The immediate effect was the death of roughly 70,000 people, including soldiers, civilians, and prisoners-of-war. Some estimates say that by 1950, over 200,000 people had died from caused directly (explosion/burns) or indirectly (radiation) related to Little Boy.

For those of us who had no witness of these events, the concept of 70,000 instant deaths and an extra 130,000 slower deaths - and the tearing-out of the social fabric that went along with such an attack - exacerbated by the end of the war and hyper-inflation is like a story of our nightmares. However, it has been captured in the form of a Japanese series of graphic novels: Barefoot Gen.

I recently went to my local district library, and found that they had what seemed to be the full series. The greatest - most graphic - of them were the first two, showing the destruction of the city in intimate detail that almost (but succeeds in not doing so) seems to revel like some mad demon in the depiction of indiscriminate death and suffering. It was a difficult series of graphic novels to read to say the least.

With my own national heritage, my grandfathers were on the opposite sides of this conflict; one in northern Japan, the other in the central United States. Although neither of them were drafted - they were both involved in "key" civilian duties - issues of WW2 are difficult for me to rationalize, especially when it comes to the death of civilians.

No comments: