Some things should never be forgotten.
Even if what you remember is horrible.
You mark the date. Like Aug. 9, 1945. And then remind others.
Which is what my friend Steve did this week by sharing what occurred when he was visiting the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
He entered by the “war birds” area and got excited when he saw a tail.
“I remember saying in my head, ‘Oh wow, a B-29.’ Coming around to the nose and wing I realized it was the B-29 Bockscar.
“I just stood in silence. Honestly the hair on the back of my neck raised up and I could feel an aura from this plane. Such historical significance. Such a tragic life ending but war ending and life saving dichotomy.
“As I moved towards the right wing shooting with my phone an Asian gentleman was shooting with a digital SLR.
“Our eyes met. He was visibly sad. He stared me right in the eyes, smirked slightly and then looked to the floor and slowly walked away. It was an unbelievable nonverbal moment.”
Steve posted his comments with a photo of Bockscar, the plane that dropped devastation on Nagasaki, Japan, three days after the atomic bomb was used for the first time on Hiroshima.
The lasting legacy should be clear: make sure this never happens again.
But is that happening?
A Washington Post article on the 75th anniversary reported how the U.S. controlled access to the bomb sites and downplayed human suffering.
A general told Congress that dying from radiation was “a very pleasant way to die.”
Time Magazine war correspondent John Hersey knew better. He spent two weeks in Hiroshima. His reports through the eyes of survivors jarred the conscience of the world.
From one survivor trying to get back to his family:
“He met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way.
“The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked.
“Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns — of undershirt straps and suspenders ...”
Hershey’s reporting, later a book, put human faces on nuclear war — a clear message that nuclear weapons should be banned.
But is that happening?
Well, one notable person is trying — the current mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue.
He has sent a peace message to all cities in Illinois:
“... Nagasaki residents have continued to convey the reality of the atomic bombing and have appealed for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” he wrote.
“We are not making an appeal as past victims, but as global citizens who live in a world where the danger of nuclear weapons is very real ... .”
He sees a continued threat of nuclear weapons despite the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
He noted the city of Evanston adopted the first resolution in Illinois to support the UN treaty and urge Congress to consider signing the treaty and take these actions:
• Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.
• End the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack.
• Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
• Cancel the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons.
• Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
“The atomic-bombed cities bear the important responsibility of passing on their legacies which humanity must never forget,” the mayor said.
He is right. Never forget.
LONNY CAIN, of Ottawa, is the retired managing editor of The Times. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.