Black Rain

Today, August 6, is the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It happened at 08:15 Japan time. The Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, released a bomb named Little Boy containing 64 kg (141 lb) of uranium-235 over the city. It took Little Boy 44.4 seconds to drop from 31,000 feet (9,400 m) to a height of about 1,900 feet (580 m) where it detonated.

hiroshima-damage4.7 square miles (12 km2) of the city was destroyed. Within seconds, 75,000 people were killed or fatally injured. 65% of the casualties nine years of age and younger. Beneath the epicenter of the explosion temperatures were hot enough to melt concrete and steel. 69% of the city’s buildings were destroyed. The bomb started fires that spread rapidly through wood and paper homes.

The blast released nearly 200 different kinds of radioactive isotopes (nuclear fission particles of uranium and plutonium that escaped fission). These particles and other materials irradiated by the bomb’s neutrons were carried high into the atmosphere.

The mix of massive amounts of airborne irradiated materials merged with heat and thermal currents from the firestorms caused it to rain within an hour of the bombing. Fallout particles mixed with carbon residue from fires created the deadly “black rain” reported by many eyewitnesses.

On that day, Hiromu Morishita was 14 years old and in the ninth grade. He survived. He became a calligrapher and teacher. He was president of the Senior High School Teachers’ Society and the Hiroshima Peace Education Institute in Japan. He wrote a poem:


MorishitaWatch dutifully
with your eyes.

Here, something happened that shouldn’t have.
Here now, something irreparable continues.
Here tomorrow, signs of everyone’s destruction
may appear.

Don’t watch with one eye.
Don’t watch with your arm or with your head.

With the heart of one who endures despair.

– – – – – – – – – –

“Hiroshima” (Morishita, Bradley, and Dougherty 14) Memories of the Future: The Poetry of Sadako Kurihara and Hiromu Morishita Commentary by Edward A Dougherty


5 thoughts on “Black Rain

  1. Recently, at a workshop, they had us stand in different corners of the room, based on whether we thought that the US should have dropped the bombs in Japan. (This was to demonstrate a technique for using debate in the classroom). It surprised me that the overwhelming majority thought that we should have done it. In this country, we’re so far removed from the results of our actions that it’s scary.

    1. I can understand how at the time, an overwhelming number of people would have approved of the bombings in Japan. Folks were war weary and anything that would bring it to an end was welcome, and despite the huge loss of life reported at the time, people just did not understand the full implication of nuclear weapons, i.e. the possibility of global annihilation. But to support that action today, I think, is ignorant. Even though people are entitled to their opinion, I think it is time everyone recognizes what horror was released in those two bombings.

  2. I am saddened that there always seems so little coverage of the anniversary of the bombings in the popular press each year because — as with other such tragedies — successive generations just don’t know. In the latter editions of “Hiroshima” by John Hersey he updated the survivors whose tales made up the original book and it was disturbing to see how some factionalism and pettiness took over the subsequent peace efforts. As with the Holocaust, we can’t let the simple message to be lost: Never again. No debate. At least in our hearts.
    Perhaps next year on the 70th anniversary of the bombings more will learn and agree.
    Here is an interesting related opinion piece written this year:

    1. I agree with you, it is sad, but only natural I suppose. How many people these days “Remember the Maine!”? Same thing with the Kennedy assassination. This was the first year in almost a decade there was any significant coverage, and only because it was the 50th anniversary. I mean last year, 2013.

      Good article, thanks for the link.

    2. Forgot to mention that you are absolutely correct, we should not let the message get lost. Hiroshima was not *just* a historical event, it was a turning point so momentous that it is really difficult to gauge. Just because apathy always seems to rule the day, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t resist it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.