Hibakusha

Atomic Bomb survivors are referred to in Japanese as hibakusha, which translates literally as “bomb-affected-people”.

 

In 2012 and 2013 Robert Croonquist and Kathleen Sullivan of Hibakusha Stories invited me to New York City to meet with hibakusha, survivors of the bombing of Japan, and to tell our stories about radiation and bombs to thousands of high school students.

New York City 2012

I was nervous and scared to meet three survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima. The bomb, built and transported from Los Alamos, New Mexico to the West coast by my father, ripped apart these women’s lives, families, homes, and neighborhoods. I was met with great love and respect. Their stories brought me to tears; their loving hearts opened my heart to heal more of my own pain. Each of the hibakusha told me how deeply touched they were by my story.

Getting to know everyone at our first meeting.

 

Debbie Brindis, Shiegeko Sasamori, and Sandra Parker.

Toshiko Tanaka and Robert Croonquist

Our amazing hosts Kathleen Sullivan and Robert Croonquist

Hiroshima hibakusha Shigeko Sasamori, Reiko Yamada and Toshiko Tanaka and myself visited eighteen educational complexes; we spoke with approximately 2,100 students. We went in pairs and Toshiko, Reiko, or Shigeko spoke before me of the horrors they had lived through. Then I stood up and said my father built the bomb. The students eyes popped out, their ears perked up, and they sat up in their chairs.

Presenting at one of the New York City high schools.

With some of the students.

Reiko and I with students.

Toshiko, Robert and I with students.

We were invited to the United Nations and met with Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

Meeting at the United Nations with Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (next to me).

United Nations meeting with Angela Kane, High representative for Disarmament Affairs.

At the United Nations

Envisioning a nuclear-free world

Over the days, we each learned of the many similarities between us, from radiation dripping out our gums, to brittle and broken bones due to radiation, to screaming nightmares. We all were living in environments were it was forbidden to speak about radiation or what was happening in our bodies. In my family, everything about my fathers work was top secret and never discussed. In Japan, part of the treaty with the US was the Japanese were forbidden to talk about what the radiation was doing in their bodies.

With Reiko and Toshiko

At Carnegie Hall.

With the beautiful Shigeko Sasamori

Reiko Yamada and me. Photo Paule Saviano

New York City 2013

 

Hiroshima hibakusha Shigeko Sasamori, Reiko Yamada and Jong-keun Lee, a Korean resident of Japan, Clifton Truman Daniel, President Truman’s grandson, and myself visited seventeen educational complexes, both public and private. We spoke with close to 3,000 students.

Clifton Truman Daniel, Shigeko Sasamori,  Jong-keun Lee, with Marie Cochrane interpreting, and I spoke at the Japan Society in New York. This event was live-streamed to Japan.

Shigeko Sasamori brought me this beautiful kimono from Japan and said, “Welcome to the family”.

Reiko Yamada, me, Shigeko Sasamori and Jong-keun Lee

Speaking at the Japan Society with Clifton Truman Daniel, Shigeko Sasamori, Jong-keun Lee, and Marie Cochrane interpreting.

With Clifton Truman Daniel.

Students listening to our presentations.

The amazing team for 2013.

Reiko Yamada and I riding the subway.

Videos 2012

 

Cinema Forum Fukushima 2012

In May of 2012 the Hibakusha Stories team visited many New York City area high schools to make presentations to the attentive school kids. These recordings document the visits to East Community High School and Lower Manhattan Arts Academy High School.

Dr. Cynthia Miller / Hibakusha Interview

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @East Side Community High School #1, Facilitator: Kathleen Sullivan, PhD.

 

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @East Side Community High School #2, Hibakusha Testimony: Reiko YAMADA

 

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @East Side Community High School #3, Hibakusha Testimony: Dr. Cynthia Miller & Student Comments/Q&A

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @Lower Manhattan Arts Academy High School #, Facilitator: Debbie Brindis

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @Lower Manhattan Arts Academy High School #2, Hibakusha Testimony: Toshiko TANAKA

Hibakusha Stories NYC School Visit @Lower Manhattan Arts Academy High School #3, Hibakusha Testimony: Dr. Cynthia Miller & Students Questions

Videos 2013

Cinema Forum Fukushima 2013

On May 2, 2013, The Japan Society & Hibakusha Stories presented “Atomic Bomb Survivors Meet Descendants of Harry Truman and the Manhattan Project” with students in New York City Public High Schools. The evening featured Clifton Truman Daniel, Shigeko Sasamori, Jong-keun Lee, and Dr. Cynthia Miller. Marie Cochrane graciously acted as interpreter. Robert Fish of the Japan Society & Robert Croonquist of Hibakusha Stories provided opening remarks.

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