Today is the 68h anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. When the bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” was dropped from the Enola Gay, it killed 70,000 to 80,000 people instantly. Another 70,000 were seriously injured. In the words of one historian, “In one terrible moment, 60% of Hiroshima… was destroyed. The blast temperature was estimated to reach over a million degrees Celsius, which ignited the surrounding air, forming a fireball some 840 feet in diameter.” A second bomb, “Fat Man” was later dropped on Nagasaki, killing another approximately 35,000 people.
I’m not interested in the debate about whether the bomb was “necessary” in the context of that specific war. People have argued for years about whether the dropping of the bomb prevented the need for a land invasion that would have killed large numbers of Americans.
Today is not about war tactics. It is a reminder of the horrible potential consequences of our inability to resolve our difficulties without bloodshed. A day to pray for peace. In the Mass of Peace he presided over yesterday in the cathedral of Hiroshima, Cardinal Peter Turkson talked about the importance of “ending hostilities between humans and converting the instruments of death into instruments of peace and progress for humanity.”
May it be so.