Wednesday, May 11, 2016


President Obama will be the first sitting American President to visit Hiroshima, a visit that carries heavy symbolic weight (see, e.g. this article in the NYTimes). In August of 1946 John Hersey wrote an article for The New Yorker in which he followed the lives of six residents of Hiroshima, five Japanese and one German (priest), who survived the bombing. One of these was Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church.. Here's paragraph about him:
He thought he would skirt the fire, to the left. He ran back to Kannon Bridge and followed for a distance one of the rivers. He tried several cross streets, but all were blocked, so he turned far left and ran out to Yokogawa, a station on a railroad line that detoured the city in a wide semicircle, and he followed the rails until he came to a burning train. So impressed was he by this time by the extent of the damage that he ran north two miles to Gion, a suburb in the foothills. All the way, he overtook dreadfully burned and lacerated people, and in his guilt he turned to right and left as he hurried and said to some of them, “Excuse me for having no burden like yours.” Near Gion, he began to meet country people going toward the city to help, and when they saw him, several exclaimed, “Look! There is one who is not wounded.” At Gion, he bore toward the right bank of the main river, the Ota, and ran down it until he reached fire again. There was no fire on the other side of the river, so he threw off his shirt and shoes and plunged into it. In midstream, where the current was fairly strong, exhaustion and fear finally caught up with him—he had run nearly seven miles—and he became limp and drifted in the water. He prayed, “Please, God, help me to cross. It would be nonsense for me to be drowned when I am the only uninjured one.” He managed a few more strokes and fetched up on a spit downstream.

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