Our look back at the bright atomic blasts and dark mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago stirred undying memories, renewed debate about the conduct of the war and inspired a frail hope that humanity may survive its ongoing relationship with nuclear weapons
Thank you for the report on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing [Aug. 1]. Your stories were a reminder that most countries still consider the possession of nuclear weapons more a point of pride than the potential for murder. Why does a country have to prove its supremacy through its ability to destroy? Nations should instead boast of creating something that can benefit mankind: cures for illness, sustainable crops that can reduce famine, and inspiring artistic and literary works that show the best of the human spirit.
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Your story about the atom bomb brought back memories. I was on the island of Tinian at that time, in the 4th Marine Air Wing, and often watched those big B-29s take off. When the Enola Gay returned, it just about blew our tents down, since it came in so low in celebration of what the crew suspected it had done: end the war. Later we flew our C-46 transport plane to Omura, Japan. As we looked at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seemed as if somebody had taken a rake and cleared those cities off the earth. I am now 80 years old, and while those memories may have been suppressed, they were never erased from my mind. I only pray that such bombs will never be used again.
Robert P. Good
Shenandoah, Virginia, U.S.
Has Time forgotten Japan 's cowardly attack on Pearl Harbor? The thousands of Allied soldiers who perished in Japan's barbaric prison camps? The Korean women forced into prostitution? Or the hundreds of thousands of civilian Chinese slaughtered in Nanking? If Japan still finds it appropriate to honor the victims of the atom bombs dropped on two of its cities 60 years ago, it should own up to all the war crimes its armed forces committed prior to that.
As a student ambassador to Japan a few years ago, I visited Hiroshima and placed 1,000 paper cranes as an offering at the Peace Memorial. I realized that emotions of sorrow are universal. Once you stand in a place that has suffered as much as Hiroshima, you understand that world peace is not some cliché idea.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
I am the same age as Sakaru Takigawa, one of the men whose picture was included in your report on the survivors of Hiroshima. As a young Marine who would probably have played a small but active role in the scheduled invasion of Japan, I cheered when I heard the news about the bombing. Since then, 60 years of reflection have tempered my enthusiasm.
Walnut Creek, California, U.S.
How much longer do Americans have to feel guilty about Hiroshima? By dropping the atom bombs, the U.S. delivered millions of people from the jaws of the Japanese war machine. Every story about the fate of the Japanese victims should also mention the suffering the Japanese inflicted on China, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The debt that the world owes the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is rarely articulated. It is in large part because of the horrific nature of their suffering that atomic weapons have not been used again. The staggering civilian death toll prompted democracies to do their utmost to avoid such "collateral damage" in later conflicts.
Thank you for the oral histories of the U.S. servicemen aboard the planes that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I hope they know they are heroes. They helped end WW II and ensured that my grandpa and millions of other grandpas would go home instead of invading Japan. It was estimated that an invasion might have caused 1 million Allied casualties. There would be a lot fewer dads and grandpas of ours around today had that taken place.
Jonas Lindgren, Officer Candidate
Illinois Army National Guard
Glenview, Illinois, U.S.
Hiroshima is now a well-planned and modern city, but no amount of modernization can take away the fact that more than 60,000 people were wiped out in seconds by the atomic blast. I believe the modernization occurred because the U.S. simply did not comprehend the extent of destruction the atom bomb would cause and thus set about rebuilding the city to ease the pain and guilt Americans felt.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Irshad Manji's essay "When Denial Can Kill" argued that Islam might be motivating suicide bombers [July 25]. She is right. It is not enough for Muslims to hide behind platitudes like "Islam means peace" and to say the radical fringe of Islam is exploiting the religion for its nefarious ends. It may be time for Muslims to acknowledge that the teachings of Islam, as reflected in the Koran, are vulnerable to sinister and foolish interpretation at the hands of ignorant clerics or those willing to use Scripture to achieve political ends. Manji's courageous exhortation to reform the religion needs to be heeded. Islam has much more to be commended than censured. Muslims must modernize by combatting the suppression of independent thought and the subjugation of women. These are evils that Muslims need to face if they are to speak with greater credibility against the injustices that have caused much distress to Muslims around the world and, in particular, in the Middle East.
It is very easy to make religion the scapegoat for all the ills in society. But blaming religion does not resolve conflicts. Al-Qaeda is not against the American or European way of life. It is against the constant political and economic intrusions by the West into the Middle East. It wants American troops out of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It wants to see Palestinians given justice and a peaceful place to live and work, with no influence whatsoever by Israel over their daily lives. The world will be a better place when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved and the West pulls its forces out of the Middle East.
Atif Mumtaz Ali
Leaders and Aggressors
"Hate around the corner" [July 25], on the four homegrown London suicide bombers, concluded with the statement that "the big challenge [after the London bombings] is to prevent more nice lads from growing up to be terrorists." While most people understand that resorting to violence and murder is not a viable solution to the world's problems, a rabid, radical minority of individuals flatly disagrees. Among them, undeniably, we must include the heads of state of some democratic nations who steadfastly believe that massive wars are necessary to solve the terrorist problem. Nearly 90% of the people of some European countries were against their leaders' war plans. It is therefore an even greater challenge for mankind to contain that handful of hapless, disruptive individuals. Most kids in Leeds or Baghdad deplore terrorism and oil wars equally.