Thursday, August 06, 2015


Remembering Hiroshima ... forever.
"At first, without electricity or radio, we were cut off from the rest of the world. The following day cars and trains began arriving from Tokyo and Osaka with help for Hiroshima. They stayed in the outskirts of the city, and when we questioned them as to what had happened, they answered very mysteriously: “The first atomic bomb has exploded.”
“But what is the atomic bomb?”
They would answer: “The atom bomb is a terrible thing.”
“We have seen how terrible it is, but what is it?”
And they would repeat: “It’s the atomic bomb…the atomic bomb.”
They knew nothing but the name. It was a new word that was coming for the first time into the vocabulary. Besides, the knowledge that it was the atomic bomb that had exploded was no help to us at all from a medical standpoint, as no one in the world knew its full effects on the human organism. We were, in effect, the first guinea pigs in such experimentation.
But from a missionary standpoint, they did challenge us when they said: “Do not enter the city because there is a gas in the air that kills for seventy years.” It is at such times that one feels most a priest, when one knows that in the city there are 50,000 bodies which, unless they are cremated, will cause a terrible plague. There were besides 120,000 wounded to care for. In light of these facts, a priest cannot remain outside the city just to preserve his life. Of course, when one is told that in the city there is a gas that kills, one must be very determined to ignore that fact and go in. And we did." - Pedro Arrupe S.J., From a talk given in 1950

Blessed Paul VI died on this day in 1978 as well. 


  1. The horror of Hiroshima cannot be fully comprehended by man. I sometimes wonder if race made it easier for US to use this awful weapon. The Japenese were demonized even into my generation in the 1950's. May it never happen again.

    1. I've wondered that too.

      The older I get the more awed I am by what happened. It simply gives new meaning to the feast of the Transfiguration - every year I think of the souls who perished - leaving shadows, imprints upon shrouds of concrete.


  3. It was a horrible thing, we should always remember it, but it needed to be done.

    Saying that I do agree the first comment. I remember my Mom saying they hated the "Japs," more then the Germans, etc, despite the horrors of what was going on in concentration camps. I do think its because they "looked," different, were of a different race, so they were easier to hate then strapping blond young guys. Oh well, that particular thing was that generations "thing," and we have ours that our children will think was "weird."

  4. Actually, Mack, there is strong evidence that it didn't need to be done, at least not for the "merciful" reasons generally cited. See, for instance, here.



  5. Michael, thanks..I was surprised that one of Terry's readers would link to Salon and then I saw it was "you." : )

    I think it is an interesting read, and a discussion to have now and forever that there is war. I have no doubt that Roosevelt did have regrets dropping the bomb (not that he wouldn't have done it all over again) how could you not? However, I have to say, war is war and if it saved one of our lives..then it was worth it. I know its feral and not nice but I think it was the best decision he could have made, though not one that anyone could ever be happy with.

  6. Actually it was Truman who gave the order to drop the bomb although Roosevelt had he lived would have done the same. I do not know why Hiroshima and Nagisaki were picked as targets? They were not militarily significant and had high civilian populations. I also wonder why they did not pick an unpopulated island to drop the first one on as a warning? I suppose using it was necessary to end the war, but did it have to be used on people? I also do not think anyone had any idea if it would work or what the results would be. Both cities had a large Catholic community, large for Japan anyway. There is a story I read awhile ago of a Jesuit church and rectory surviving the blast. Something of a miracle. Anyone else know more about that?

  7. The determination to use the bomb began with Roosevelt. The following is from a PBS piece I saw earlier this week:

    "No single government document shows Truman's decision to use the bomb, but there were two relevant military directives from the Joint Chiefs to the U.S. Army Air Forces. The first, to General Henry "Hap"? Arnold on 24 July, designated the four possible targets. The next day, a similar order to General Carl Spaatz, who was commanding strategic air forces in the Pacific, added a date: "after about 3 August 1945."? That document also directed that other bombs were to be delivered against targets as soon as they were ready. On the basis of these orders, Spaatz selected Hiroshima and then Kokura to be the targets for the first and second atomic missions. (Cloud cover on the day of the second raid caused the shift to the secondary target of Nagasaki.)

    Some critics have questioned why there was not more deliberation about whether to use the terrible new weapon. The main concern for decision-makers was to win the war quickly while avoiding a bloody invasion or losing public support for unconditional surrender. Under the conditions in 1945, which had already produced fire raids that had killed far more Japanese civilians than did the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no U.S. president or general could have failed to employ the atomic bomb.

    Conrad C. Crane


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