My grandfather, the man who helped build the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima

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Re:My grandfather, the man who helped build the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima

Postby MrRxton » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:14 am

On August 6, 2015, I knelt on the banks of the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima, Japan and floated a paper lantern on the dark water. Following the current, it joined the stream of thousands of others, decorated with hand-drawn peace signs, flowers, globes, and prayers for peace in many languages, flowing past the skeletal ruins of the iconic A-bomb Dome and under the Aioi Bridge, which had served as the target for the atomic bomb, 70 years before. On the night of August 6, 1945, victims of the bombing gathered by that same river in numb shock and horror as their city burned around them. They took refuge in the water, hoping to soothe their wounds. Some people's skin hung in strips or slipped off in sheets. The dead floated beside the living. Many of the injured cried out for water. Still, many survivors later remembered the eerie quiet of that night. Before setting my lantern in the water, I slid a photograph of my grandfather into the corner where the wood met paper. It flickered ghost-like in front of the candle flame. I wanted him to bear witness to what I don't think he had ever fully faced in his lifetime: that his work in a top secret laboratory in the southeastern United States had contributed to this atrocity. Oak Ridge, Tennessee, codenamed Site X, was a secret city built by the Manhattan Project to house the production facilities and workers needed to enrich the uranium ultimately bound for the Hiroshima bomb. As a mid-level chemist, my grandfather, George Strasser, was likely not told the ultimate purpose of his work for security reasons. He died before I was born, so I could never ask him. I vividly remember a photograph hanging in my grandmother's house when I was a child, showing my grandfather standing in front of a mushroom cloud. At the time I didn't understand what it meant, but it launched a lifelong interest in his involvement in the nuclear bomb. As I came to understand the significance of the photo, I was haunted to know that he played a part in the horror released in Hiroshima, taking an estimated 80,000 lives in the force of a single explosion, and hundreds of thousands in the days, weeks, months, and years after, as the radiation ran its course through the bodies of those who had been there that day.
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