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For Those Who Pray for Peace
The Day I Carried My Family's Bones in a Copper Pot

Yoshiko Kitanaka (maiden name, Hiyama)
55th Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin High School before the war Residing in Nishi-tokyo City, Tokyo

 Early in the morning of August 6, I took a day off from work at Toyo Kogyo (currently Mazda). I was taking my brother to refuge in Yae. We got on the 7:15 bus leaving Kamiya-cho.

 We passed through Kabe and the bus was driving up a mountain road. Suddenly the bus shook violently as if it were going to tumble over. I clung to my brother and looked out the window. We saw a cloud in the shape of a mushroom. The people on the bus said there must have been a secret armory that exploded, so I didn't worry about Hiroshima and I took him to the school children's refuge site. I got back on the bus to head home, but they wouldn't drive past Kabe. The trains had also stopped and the small town of Kabe was full of people who were seriously wounded-those who were terribly burned, those with fearsome skin eruptions, those who were bleeding profusely.

 It was a sight I had never seen before. Trembling, I walked along the train tracks. When I got to Midori-machi where we were taking refuge, I heard that the whole city of Hiroshima had burned. My sister and I sobbed together. My father returned and gave us the details. The night sky was dyed red.

 On August 7, my father and I went to the city to look for our other family members. We walked to Yokogawa but had a hard time walking on the hot road, which was still sizzling. We would wet our feet with water from broken water pipes. The bridges were skewed, and the roads were filled with dead bodies covered in tattered clothes and blood. Bodies in tanks were bloated, even though the water around them had completely evaporated. The stench of burned hair and skin was so terrible that I vomited every now and then as I walked. When we came to Aioi Bridge, I finally came to the realization that Hiroshima had vanished. I clung to my father and cried out loud.

 The only building that I saw was the Fukuya Department Store. We walked through Hatchobori, the first block of Teppo-cho, and finally we found our house was completely burned down and still hot. Only the bathtub and grinding stones remained. I thought about what my family may have been doing on the morning of the 6. I dug around and found my mother's bones by the front door. Around the grinding stone were bones of my grandmother, brother and sister. I brought back their bones in a copper pot.

 I think it was August 9 when my father and I went to Mt. Ushita to report to the school that we were alive. I remember how Mr. Hisashi Harada was happy to see me. I was very disappointed to hear that the teachers Mr. Takaji Shimazaki and Ms. Fumi Yoshikawa didn't survive.

… 74 years old