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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Chikae Kitamoto (female)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 14 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I was a sixteen-year-old and in my first year at high school.
In those days, most of the young men were drafted into the army and the ones who stayed in our village were the sick, the elderly, and children. Our hardships, we were told, were what we had to endure for the country.
Our teenage years were filled not with studies but with working in a factory while training using bamboo lances as weapons. Both boys and girls were instructed the use of unfamiliar machines such as lathes at a Sailor Fountain Pen factory in the then Oya in Aki county. We were only sixteen.

Koyaura Station was where our train was stopped as the whistle coupled with the explosion rang out simultaneously. We thrust our heads under the train seats and screamed. About five minutes later, news came from the stationmaster that our school principal was on his way to the station, and that we were to wait. It was soon after that we learned that our village had turned into a blazing inferno. I remember crying as we walked the rest of the way back to school. Three days afterwards, we were commanded by the school to take part in A-bomb relief activities. The mere thought of it now makes me tremble with fear. There were small children who were coved in burns with blisters covering their entire body screaming, "Mommy… Daddy" as they sought their parents. Their voices have never left me as if branded in memory.

When I arrived at the site the next day, that same child had passed away as one by one the children went quiet. Male students were tasked with digging holes in the sports ground where they piled up the dead, poured oil on them, and burned them. There is more I would like to share, however if possible, I want to write them down on a separate sheet of paper. Please allow me to do so.

1. A young child crying, "Help! Help!" implored after her mother and fathers whereabouts. As she continued to scream ceaselessly the doctor directed me to act as her mother. As I held her burned and skin peeling hand I said "I'm with you," she breathed her last as if relieved from suffering. Images of this scene have yet to relieve my suffering.

2. What pain, what suffering was going through the minds of those children as they cried out the names of their family members and relatives. They left this world on a note filled with anger and bitterness. It is for those people that I join my hands in prayer every year at Hiroshima Memorial Service on August 6 (and hope to continue to do so).

3. Such a horrible thing like dropping of the atomic-bomb must never happen again anywhere in the world. I want to cry out for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.

I now have a 25-year-old granddaughter and 22-year-old grandson.
When they were eight and four, they asked me to take them to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park because they wanted to see the doves there. While babysitting them at the park I took them to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. My granddaughter got so scared that she cried and rushed out of the museum.
My grandson clasped my hand tightly, his palms sweaty. On the way out of the museum there were sheets of paper on which visitors could write their thoughts. So I told him that he might as well do that. "Please don't look, grandma," he asked me to which I said, "sure", and he started writing.
The paper read, "NO WAY, NO WAY! I don't like war. Don't start a war anymore, because it will take away my father." I was deeply touched by his words and I mention how proud I am of my grandson whenever I talk about my A-bomb experience.