Last Wednesday, I had the great honor of hearing the stories of two Hibakusha (atom bomb survivors), Shigeko Sasamori and Yakuaki Yamashita. I am so very grateful they traveled all the way from their homes in Mexico and LA to visit Vermont.
What an incredible gift they gave us—sharing their stories and experiences, reliving the horror of witnessing and surviving the nuclear blast.
I do not know what it is like to live through such violence, and yet Ms. Sasamori and Mr. Yamashita gave me a glimpse of it last night, and even then, it is difficult for me to fully imagine the numbness, the fear, the sorrow, the tragic loss, the pain, the devastation, the discrimination, the destitution, the sickness, the shame, the desperation, the courage it takes to live every day with these memories.
This may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, to have heard eyewitness accounts from the final generation of HIbakusha. Their work is ever more important these days when fewer and fewer stories are being told, and the population of survivors is dwindling.
We must remember their past, in order to ensure history does not repeat. Nuclear warfare affects not only those who survived the horrors but also the global environment and all people born into this world thereafter.
We must educate the youth that nuclear weapons have an unacceptable impact on human beings. So far, the organizations that put on the event last night have brought Hibakusha stories to over 40,000 students in the lower 48 states. Many students had never heard anything about the atomic bomb in their entire educational career.
As Yakuaki-san said, “Don’t hate anyone. Hate creates another hate…Your lives are beautiful.”
It took 45 seconds for the bomb to fall from the airplane to the city below. Take 45 seconds today to think about all you are grateful for.
For one, I’m grateful to have heard these remarkable and brave Hibakusha Stories in person last night. I will remember them for the rest of my life.
Together, if we all do our part with the unique skills we possess, we CAN eliminate nuclear weapons and work toward peace.
You can join the peaceful movement by visiting icanw.org and sign up for their newsletter to keep up to date on the Nuclear Ban Treaty and discover ways to take action.
Love widely. Peace for all. 💜