July 24 — As we travel back to Osaka on the bullet train, which races through Japan at speeds up to 150 mph, I have some time to reflect on the emotional and intense experience we just had in Hiroshima.
Editors note: This is the second in a series of diary entries from Ashland High football player Mason Constantino as he enjoys the sights and sounds of Japan leading up to Pacific Rim Bowl XI.
July 24 — As we travel back to Osaka on the bullet train, which races through Japan at speeds up to 150 mph, I have some time to reflect on the emotional and intense experience we just had in Hiroshima. It is hard to put into words the emotions felt as we walked through the memorial, which is situated on the same land that we bombed 64 years ago. The feeling is a mixture of grief and sorrow, as well as a sense of guilt for being a citizen of the country that did this terrible thing. However, the museum in Hiroshima does not make the Americans look like terrible people. Instead it tries to explain why America dropped the bomb and the deadly science behind the A-bomb.
This is not to say that the museum does not also show the horrors of what the bomb did to the people of Hiroshima. There are photographs of people with terrible burns and artifacts of shirts torn to shreds by the force of the bomb. The one artifact that I will remember was the pieces of a young boy's thumbs. Next to the small display it said that while the young boy was being taken home, he was so thirsty that he tried to suck the puss from his own thumb. However, instead of focusing on aspects of the bombing such as the story above, the museum is dedicated to trying to promoting the elimination of nuclear weapons. The memorial uses the events which occurred at Hiroshima as evidence of the terribly destructive aspect of the bomb. There is a display which shows letters, written annually by mayors of Hiroshima, urging for countries to eliminate their supply of nuclear weapons. The sad truth of the matter is we are far from this goal. Our country alone still possesses more than 3,000 nuclear bombs.
I know that this experience sounds depressing, but it is something that is important for us to experience as American citizens. It is one thing to hear about Hiroshima in school, but it is entirely different to be at ground zero and see the damage that occurred there. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see that Hiroshima has recovered, and is again a flourishing Japanese city, complete with tall buildings and a huge shopping mall, which we were able to walk through for about an hour. I enjoyed our trip to Hiroshima very much and now will be able to spend the rest of the day with my host family. I may visit another bath house or go to a karaoke bar, but whatever I do, I'm sure it will be different than anything I can do in Ashland.