By Jack Lynch
9/11 Widows and Victims’ Families Association
Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of the city of Hiroshima, graciously met with family members and residents to provide insight on the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. He solemnly extended his condolences to all who lost loved ones on 9/11 and stated that the people of Hiroshima stand in support of New York. Many of their people felt what happened on 9/11 was similar to what they experienced 57 years ago. The Mayor reminded us of how New York citizens helped Hiroshima in reporting the human tragedy, supporting orphans and performing surgery on many who were severely burned at Mount Sinai Hospital. At the time, the support brought hope for the future and for humanity, to people in despair.
A discussion took place about how the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial was created as a Memorial to the horrible events surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb. Congress enacted a special law in 1949 (4 years after the tragedy), setting aside 30 acres for the memorial. Mayor Akiba described how the decision was made without much controversy as the government did not require public input.
The Peace Memorial is designed so that the A Bomb Dome, (a structure that survived the blast) the Memorial and the museum are aligned in the center of the park in a sight line.
The Memorial is a small, simple structure in the center of the park but the entire surroundings accentuate and complement the Memorial. Underneath the Memorial a stone casing holds the registry of over 220,000 names of the deceased, which include survivors of the Bomb who died later. Wording on the memorial created a tremendous amount of controversy. After much discussion a simple sentence to imprint the event in the minds of future generations was decided upon “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” The “we” represents all humanity. The Park contains 50 memorials representing different people and themes and is a valuable learning experience. The Memorial has stood the test of time and it is still the center of the city and its people, both spiritually and physically, after 57 years.
Mayor Akiba told us of how the citizens of Hiroshima are committed to bringing a million Japanese school children to the Peace Park every year. Children must learn about Pearl Harbor and know the history of World War II before making the trip. Pearl Harbor is not taught in Japanese history in the regular school curriculum. Survivors of the A Bomb blast are guides in the Park and relate their experiences to the 10 million visitors who come to the Memorial each year from all around the world.
We wish to thank Mayor Akiba for his courtesy and insight as we continue in our journey to ensure that moral authority takes precedence in honoring the sacrifice of our lost loved ones. We are encouraged by his insight and believe the WTC Memorial will be the most magnificent tribute to the historic events of September 11th, our loved ones and to freedom.