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For Those Who Pray for Peace
Glass Still Buried in My Arm

Junko Yoshinari (maiden name, Morinishi)
55th Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin High School before the war Residing in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo

 After the last day of February 1945, we, the second year high school students, finished our classes and started working as part of the Mobilization Student Workforce. Most of us went to work at Toyo Kogyo (currently Mazda) but since I lived in Midori-machi near Ujina at the time, I was assigned to work with a few others at the Ujina railroad station.

 At the railroad station, I worked with small parcels along with Ms. Tatsuhara and Ms. Tajika. Our office duties differed from each other, and our desks were in separate places. As the war worsened, our office became unsafe, because there were many army facilities in Ujina. Due to the size of our department, it was transferred to one of the school buildings at Hiroshima Jogakuin. The building that housed the classrooms for the first-and second-year high school students was empty, because the students were away at their workstations. I used to get to work early in order to expedite my duties efficiently and with precision.

 On the morning of August 6, I got off the streetcar at Hatchobori and got to my office early as usual. Nobody was in the room yet, but I saw Ms. Tajika's belongings on her desk and I assumed she was playing the piano on the second floor of the kindergarten building. I put my belongings on my desk, picked up my official stamp, and went to General Affairs. General Affairs had its office set up in the art room. When I entered, I saw Ms. Fujita in the corner, wiping the manager's desk. I went straight to the attendance roster, which was lying open on a desk, by the windows on the south side of the room. Just as I was about to stamp the roster, there was a sharp hissing sound and a flash of light ran across the windows. The windows of a small building sandwiched by the gym and Art room flashed brightly. I was startled, but continued to press down on my stamp. Then I walked two or three steps towards the entrance, wondering what the light was. That's when I lost consciousness.

 I have no recollection of the sound of the bomb or how I became trapped under the building. I'm not sure how many minutes had passed. I heard a small voice, "Help, help…" as if I were in a dream, which grew louder as I came to my senses. I was surrounded in darkness and couldn't tell what was going on. Slimy liquid poured out of my head onto my face, and slowly I gathered that I was bleeding, laying face down under the fallen building. In the midst of voices calling for help, I heard Ms. Fujita, "Help, I can't breathe. Please get this off of my neck…" But help never came. I heard Ms. Fujita say, "Goodbye, everyone." And then I noticed I could no longer hear the voice belonging to my senior, who had been saying, "If I escape, I'm going to help all of you get out."

 I felt the need to urgently do something. In the darkness, I called out to Ms. Nakaoka, whose voice seemed to be closest to me. She answered immediately, so I asked her "Is there a place to get out somewhere?" "I'll take a look," she said, and shortly later, "We can get out here!" I wiggled my body towards the direction that she indicated, and soon I saw some light. I scooted over further, but there was a mass of wires that had spilled out from above the ceiling, blocking my way. I closed my eyes and passed under them. That was the most nerve-wrecking experience of that day.

 When I finally stood on top of the collapsed school building and looked at the schoolyard, I was astounded. The yard was eerily quiet without a single soul. I could tell that all of the school buildings had collapsed, but there was a grey haze, and I couldn't tell what had happened to the buildings by the biology classroom. It certainly didn't look like what a campus should look like on a summer morning. A ghostly atmosphere hung in the air. To me, this was the most shocking sight of August 6.

 I gradually started to lose control over myself, and when I looked down at my feet, I couldn't remember how or where I had just come from. I could no longer hear anyone call for help from under the rubble. When I looked around, I saw a man crouched down on top of the collapsed building. When I took a careful look, I realized it was Mr. Yoshida from General Affairs. Mr. Yoshida's crew-cut-head was covered with bumps. He held his head in his hands as blood dripped out, and he seemed to have lost his drive to even say a word. Just then, a clerk who escaped from the Kindergarten building rushed over to us and said "You should get out of here, at once". I hesitated because Mr. Yoshida didn't seem to be in any shape to be running away. The clerk said, "I will take Mr. Yoshida with me. You must go now." I looked over towards the kindergarten and noticed that the homes across from the kindergarten were catching on fire.

 At first Ms. Nakaoka and I weren't sure which way to go to get around all of the rubble. Then I remembered that between the Kindergarten and school building there was a fire cistern that had recently been put in. In order to be able to access the water tank from outside of the school grounds, a part of the brick wall fence was torn down. We walked around the edge of the cistern and jumped down to the street.

 In the street there were many refugees walking in a line. They seemed to be covered in dust, and I wondered if they had all escaped from under collapsed buildings and homes. The line moved silently towards Hakushima, bending towards the right after crossing Tokiwa Bridge. We wanted to go towards the farm in Ushita, so we turned left after crossing the bridge. When we passed by the Nigitsu Shrine, a large tree on the temple grounds was on fire. The leaves on the branches that were outstretched to the street were burning furiously, and I was worried that a branch might break and fall on us. We ran past it in a hurry. We walked along the river and turned right onto a small street that led toward the Jogakuin farm, until we realized the houses along this street were also on fire. We gave up going to the farm and walked instead towards Ushita-Waseda, in order to get into the mountains.

 We found a tent on a flat clearing after hiking up the mountain road a little ways. In the tent were a few Army officers, a chair, and desk with a machine that appeared to be a communication radio. There were also a few civilians resting there, and we decided to take a break. I sat in a daze, except for once in a while I would be gripped by fear that at any moment American soldiers might come down from the sky in parachutes.

 Around noon, two women came into the tent. They happened to be clerks from the same department as I. They were walking from Hiroshima Station towards Jogakuin when the bomb dropped. One fell to the ground immediately and was fine, but the other suffered terrible burns. Her face was swollen and her eyelids were sealed together. She kept saying, "I can't see… I want to see my mother…" The skin on her arms was peeled off and dangling from her fingertips. It was such a pitiful sight, and I could not look at her for too long.

 Evening came and we wondered what had become of the city. We decided to hike down the mountain to take a look. We stopped at a field by the river. It appeared to be a workplace for the Engineer Troops. To the right of the entrance was a large group of resting civilians, and to the left lay soldiers, who suffered burns to their upper bodies, waiting for first aid. An Army officer arrived and I had a feeling that he was there to assess the area. I gathered my nerves and went to ask him if he knew anything about the state of the neighborhood where I lived. He told me that my neighborhood was undamaged.

 That was the happiest moment that day. It seemed I had a home and family to go back to. We wanted to leave the field immediately, but it was getting dark and we didn't know what lay between here and home. We gave up going home that night and headed to Ushita, where Ms. Nakaoka had an acquaintance. The people at the house in Ushita were very kind and welcomed us to stay overnight.

 The next day I was able to go home. My only injuries were the cuts from shattered glass (I still have some pieces buried in my arm) and a dislocated left shoulder (which was put back in place by my Judo coach). It is painful to think about how people who were in the same place as I lost their lives while I am still here, living. For 60 years, I have lived with this wavering feeling.

… 74 years old