"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


75 Years: First Atomic Bomb Dropped In Hiroshima Japan, Feast Of The Transfiguration, 8:15 AM, (August 6, 1945)

Years later Joe O’Donnell spoke
to a Japanese interviewer
about this picture* (full text below)
Today we commemorate the war dead especially those in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, seventy-five years ago, on August 6, 1945. The first Atomic bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" was detonated on the feast of the Transfiguration. It contained 64 kilograms (141 pounds) of enriched uranium, although less than a kilogram underwent nuclear fission. U.S. warplane B-29 Enola Gay stayed over the target area for two minutes and at a safe distance of ten miles away when the bomb detonated. No one of the crewmen knew of the exact nature of the weapon. They were only told to wear black goggles as protection from a blinding flash. "It was hard to believe what we saw," Col. Paul Tibbets, Jr. (Pilot and Aircraft commander) told reporters, while U.S. Navy Capt. William Parsons (Weaponeer and bomb commander) said "the whole thing was tremendous and awe-inspiring... the men aboard with me gasped 'My God'." "Trinity" was the code name that created the bomb that killed 140,000 people and reduced the entire city to a wasteland. Three days later a second more powerful bomb was dropped in the city of Nagasaki on August 9, but with lesser fatalities due to the valley terrain of the city. After the tragedy, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces on August 14, 1945 (August 15 in Japan because of time zone differences), with the exception that Japanese Emperor's sovereignty would be maintained, thus bringing an end to World War II and half a century of Japanese aggression in Asia.

Today, the diminishing and aging survivors or Hibakusha of the world's first uranium bomb explosion gathered once again in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At 8:15 AM they stood in silence in solemn observance of the exact moment of the detonation. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on the Japanese government to sign and ratify the United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty adopted in 2017. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Japan’s commitment to a nuclear-free world by offering his country to serve “as a bridge” between the world’s nuclear powers to dialogue in order to reach peace agreement. Ironically, U.S. has put Japan in its nuclear arsenal protection which contradicts Tokyo’s non-nuclear policy advocacy. We are in for a chicken and egg situation here which could be a potential trigger. Pope Francis spoke about hypocrisy when he was interviewed recently for The Tablet about the pandemic which is not an isolated phenomenon. He said, "This crisis is affecting us all, rich and poor alike, and putting a spotlight on hypocrisy. I am worried by the hypocrisy of certain political personalities who speak of facing up to the crisis, of the problem of hunger in the world, but who in the meantime manufacture weapons. This is a time to be converted from this kind of functional hypocrisy. It’s a time for integrity. Either we are coherent with our beliefs or we lose everything."

The 75th anniversary comes on the heels of the August 4, 2020 huge chemical explosion in Beirut that destroyed the port and a large portion of Lebanon's capital city of 1 to 2.2 million population. Initial investigation has linked the multiple explosions to the 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate which were sitting in a warehouse at the port for six years. This happened at the dawn of the annual solemnity of the Transfiguration. The Gospel reading describes the extraordinary beam of light shining on Jesus' face as well as his garments turning white as light. Paradoxically, it was a radiant light that silenced the tens of thousands of human beings who left shadows like photo negatives imprinted on pavement and walls of the buildings that remained standing. The estimated death toll reached 200,000 by 1950 due to radiation effects.

A 12-year-old Hibakusha, Sadako Sasaki, became a symbol of peace through the years. While battling leukemia, she folded paper cranes using medicine wrappers. She heard of an old Japanese story that those who fold a thousand cranes (千羽鶴Senbadzuru) are granted one wish. Millions of folded paper cranes sent by children from around the world decorate the memorial site as a prayer for peace. It seems we are back to the drawing board after what just happened in Beirut and the past seventy-five years. What is the most Christian way of approaching these events? I quote Pope Francis' resounding call from last March 27, 2020 Urbi et Orbi apostolic blessing ('to the city [of Rome] and to the world').
“Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial.
Humanity could not seem to get its act together for eons starting from the time of the Israelites. “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life..." (Deuteronomy 30:15). How to choose? Pope Francis said in that same interview by Austin Ivereigh, refering to Virgil’s Latin epic poem Aeneid, "... when Aeneas, following defeat in Troy, has lost everything. Two paths lie before him: to remain there to weep and end his life, or to follow what was in his heart, to go up to the mountain and leave the war behind. It’s a beautiful verse: "Cessi, et sublato montem genitore petivi" (I gave way to fate and, bearing my father on my shoulders, made for the mountain). This is what we all have to do now, today, to take with us the roots of our traditions, and make for the mountain [together with the Lord]." "His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light...” (Matthew 17:2). Fr. JM Manzano, SJ


*“I saw a boy about ten years old walking by. He was carrying a baby on his back. In those days in Japan, we often saw children playing with their little brothers or sisters on their backs, but this boy was clearly different. I could see that he had come to this place for a serious reason. He was wearing no shoes. His face was hard. The little head was tipped back as if the baby were fast asleep. The boy stood there for five or ten minutes.”

“The men in white masks walked over to him and quietly began to take off the rope that was holding the baby. That is when I saw that the baby was already dead. The men held the body by the hands and feet and placed it on the fire. The boy stood there straight without moving, watching the flames. He was biting his lower lip so hard that it shone with blood. The flame burned low like the sun going down. The boy turned around and walked silently away.”


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