August 04, 2005

We Remember

On a visit to Hiroshima in 1981, Pope John Paul II said: "To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace." And so I urge you to remember on this 60th Anniversary:

On August 6, 1945, on the orders of President Harry Truman, a US bomber dropped an atomic bomb called "Little Boy" on Hiroshima. "Little Boy" had an estimated equivalent explosive force of 12,500 tons of TNT. It is estimated that 140,000 people died. Hiroshima became the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack.

On August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb called "Fat Boy" was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. The original target city, Kokura, could not be reached because of weather problems and Nagasaki was selected as the alternative target. Estimates generally put the number of deaths around 80,000. "Fat Boy" was more powerful than "Little Boy," but was accidentally dropped on the outskirts of the city, lessening the amount of deaths.

It is estimated that out of every 6 deaths in the bombings, 5 were civilians and 1 was military.

60 years later, we still remember. As Bishop Skylstad says in his letter to the Japanese Bishops, "this anniversary gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on the lessons of the war ... We hope and pray that the Church can contribute to the cause of peace as we support genuine nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, not merely as ideals, but as moral imperatives and urgent policy goals."

Suggestions to mark this anniversary:

Prayer for Peace:
"May Christ banish from the hearts of all people
whatever might endanger peace, may Christ
transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and love.
May Christ enlighten the rulers of peoples so that in
addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of
their citizens, they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace;
may Christ enkindle the wills of all, so that they may
overcome the barriers that divide, cherish the bonds
of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon
those who have done them wrong;
by virtue of this action, may all peoples of the earth
become as brothers and sisters, and may the most
longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always
among them."
-Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 171