Georgia WAND in VOX Teen Newspaper – ‘Teens and War: First-Hand Accounts of the Hiroshima Bombing’
By Eliana Gilbert, VOX Contributor
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in Japan and the next thing you know, the world explodes around you? Actually, many teenagers suffered through this experience when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, Japan to end World War II. Many families were devastated with loss, teenagers were left without parents and countless homes were destroyed on that day in 1945. Numerous teenagers did not get a chance to tell their story – until now.
Thanks to the combined effort of Georgia Woman’s Act for New Direction (WAND) and the King Center, these amazing stories will now be told. The pubic can hear and see them at an event called “Visions and Voices of Peace,” August 6, from 2-4:40 PM at the King Center, Freedom Hall. The event includes readings of childrens’ first-hand accounts of the bombing, music, spoken word poetry, song and dance, much more. The event is free and open to the public.
According to Georgia Wand Director Elizabeth Baldwin, the goal of the event is to connect human faces and their stories, to people’s ideas about atomic bombing.
When people think of the bombing they mostly think about adults. But what about the young adults and children and what they went through? This event will shed a perspective of the devastation of the bombing, and just how strong some of the teenagers had to be to survive.
One of the pieces is a powerful first hand account by a fourteen-year-old girl named Natsumi Nagao, which I will be reading at the event.
“The heat ray turned the world into a furnace and burned my face and arms deeply. The skin of my arms peeled cleanly off in ragged sheets that were held to me by my fingernails…. Whenever I came back from getting water, I lay back slowly, so that my hanging skin slipped neatly down like ragged kimono sleeves. I still thought of that skin as part of me; it was precious to me!”
This is just one small part of the many powerful stories. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to go through that. I couldn’t even think about that happening to me, and I don’t know if I would be as strong as she and many other boys and girls were.
Director Baldwin explains just how much these young men and women went through. “We don’t know about what happened to all of the teens, but the last four story-tellers certainly believe that the bombing changed their lives profoundly. They had to heal, but even after Japan got back on its feet in the 1950’s, the survivors still carried scars, both emotional and physical.
One thing that strikes me about the teens is how strong, how resilient the human spirit is. People can go through unimaginable hell and survive to live normal, hopeful lives,” she says.
Overall, these children have powerful stories to tell, and an inspiring message that goes along with it.
Baldwin continues,”We believe that atomic warfare is so horrible that if people really understood it, they’d insist that the government take active steps to get rid of the weapons around the world. Teenagers around Atlanta who are exposed to the stories we hope will find ways to work for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.”
Baldwin is excited to think that WAND can make a difference in young Atlantans’ lives. “WAND’s mission is to empower people to act politically to reduce militarism and violence and to redirect excessive military spending towards unmet human and environmental need,” she says.
When asked what advice she would give to teens who want to put on an event like this she said, “The key is determination. Putting on an event takes a lot of work and it’s easy to give up. Be flexible; when one idea doesn’t work, try another. Don’t let failure get you down. If you’re determined, you can do it!”