Sixty-three years have passed, but Hideko Tamura still remembers the way her cousin Hideyuki would climb high atop the roof of their home in Hiroshima and watch the B-29 planes fly over head during air raids. She can still imagine him looking up in awe at the hundreds of planes flying overhead each day.
She also vividly remembers the devastation of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945 when an atomic bomb was dropped on the city.
Like many other young children living in Hiroshima in 1945, Tamura had been evacuated to the countryside, finding refugee in temples. She was tucked safely away when the bomb hit. Far from the devastation, Tamura later bore witness to the overwhelming devastation and loss caused by the bomb.
She learned her cousin had survived the initial blast and had run alongside a classmate to escape what they thought were planes carrying more bombs. According to the classmate, Hideyuki was burned extensively and at one point, he fell and couldn’t go on any more. He told his friend he could not go on but to continue to run and save himself. He was like a brother to Tamura.
“I was proud that even though his entire body was burned and he had no clothes left on his body as was described to me by his friend, he tried to walk and what more can you do as a human being,” Tamura described at a recent Bellevue Community College speaking engagement.
Like many other Hiroshima survivors, Tamura stayed silent, but never forgot the devastation.
In her newest book, One Sunny Day, Tamura describes vivid accounts of the bombing and depicts her struggle to find meaning in the reality of war and the dawn of the atomic age.
She was recently invited to share her story at Bellevue Community College for a lecture titled, “The Consequences of Nuclear Use and the Role of Hope: A Personal Testimony.” The production was spearheaded by fourth-year-university-student Takumi Torii from Japan.
Tamura gave a moving account of the days and years following the aftermath of the bombing. Born in Tokyo, Tamura moved with her family to Hiroshima after her father was drafted into the military. In a day marked in history, Tamura lost her mother, relatives, classmates, her young cousin Hideyuki and best friend Miyoshi. She was only 10 years old.
Moments after the explosion, she recalls a sea of injured and dazed neighbors and friends emerging from the burning city. She searched desperately for her mother among the confusion and devastation. The trauma left her with what she referred to as severe “psychic numbing” for years.
“After the bomb, we were all under a black cloud with a defying sound and a boulder of radiation like a waterfall,” she told the audience. “Followed was raging of the earth and you couldn’t see a thing. It was pitch dark and the thought was this is the end of the world.”
Today, Tamura continues her work through her educational organization called OSD (One Sunny Day) Initiatives. The organization provides ways to connect people for purposes of reconciliation and collective healing.
For more information on the OSD or to purchase One Sunny Day, visit http://osdinititiatives.com/index.html.
Lindsay Larin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 425-453-4602.