Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MUM: Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage: Hiro's story

     I am sorry that I cannot talk to you in your own language. But please listen to the message I bring from Hiroshima.
     I am 18 years old. I graduated from Hiroshima Public Commercial Senior High School this March and this is a Japanese school uniform. In Japan all students must wear this uniform. I say this because somebody thought this was a military uniform. I am glad to be here and present to you messages from the first atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima. I am glad so many of you could attend this meeting.
     My parents died when I was two years old. My parents and all relatives were victims of the first atomic bomb, except for my grandmother. Since then, I have been living in very difficult circumstances. I was only two years old when the bomb fell and I could not do anything for myself. Since she took care of me, she could not work for money. In addition to this, she was so old that nobody wanted to give her a job. She applied for work, but everywhere in vain. This meant slowly starving to death for both of us. She tried to sell soap from door to door, carrying me on her back on top of her heavy load of soap. Whenever I heard my grandmother telling this story, I could not help crying and being so thankful to my dear grandmother.
Hiromasa and his grandmother
     However, we were so poor that we could not support ourselves. This difficult situation continued until I was four years of age. At that time, I began collecting old iron and copper in the streets. In this way I used to earn about two shillings a day, or sometimes three shillings, in order to help my grandmother and make her more comfortable. Were there children anywhere as poor and miserable as I? Yes, more than 8,000 orphans in Hiroshima had had hardship as I have. My grandmother was then 64, and still working to support herself and me. This made her very sick, and finally she often could not go out to work at all.
     At the Commencement ceremonies of my primary and secondary schools, I had nobody attending with me. It was very hard to see my classmates happy with their parents and relatives on these occasions. My eyes were filled with tears and I was almost crying. Then, I tried to find out why I had to suffer and why I was unhappy. And I have reached a point where I understand--everything was caused by war. It is war that has given me this suffering and unhappiness. I am not the only example. Today there are a very great number of people who are still suffering from atomic bomb sickness and the results of war.
     A week before we left Hiroshima, on the day the United States announced the resumption of their nuclear tests, a policeman died in Hiroshima. He had been transferred to Hiroshima on the day after the explosion. He helped victims of the nuclear weapon, and that was the reason he got radiation in his blood. But for 16 years, there was no sign on him. Six months before we left, he became sick. When he died he left two children, and it is true to say that these children have been orphaned by the effect of that bomb. . .
     I would like to emphasize again: please put a stop to nuclear testing and the arms race!
     Thank you very much.

     Note: Hiro and I were the same age when he went on the Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage with my mother. He was an intelligent, solemn, earnest, duty-oriented young man. He served his grandmother and when she urged him to accept the offer to go with Mum and Miyoko to speak wherever possible in all the nuclear powers, he served my mother, becoming like a son to her. He learned English and was able to be an interpreter on the next, much more ambitious pilgrimage around the world.
     When they came back to Japan in 1964, Hiro fell in love with a young Japanese woman named Atsuko but as an orphan and a survivor of Hiroshima, he had "nothing to offer" her parents as a potential son-in-law. Mum went to bat for them, acting as their go-between. Atsuko's parents, who had two daughters but no sons, agreed to let Hiro marry Atsuko if he would assume and carry on the family name and the family business, spending six years training to become a dental surgeon.
     Hiro did.
     He and Atsuko married and had seven children--an especially great blessing for an orphan! At least one of his sons is following in the family business and they are probably the best-known dentists on the island of Shikoku!

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