I had the privilege of watching Linda Hoaglund’s documentary, Things Left Behind, at a special screening at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. It was sponsored by the OU Presidential Dream Course, “Nuclear Legacies.”

The documentary captured Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako photographing clothing, shoes, and other objects that survived the 1945 Hiroshima bomb during World War II. Her photographs were displayed in a temporary museum exhibit in Canada. It was one thing to read about Hiroshima bombing in my text book in high school, but another thing to witness how it completely devastated ordinary people through remnants of the bombing and how it affected descendants of survivors who attended the exhibit.

Ishiuchi’s photographs were breathtaking. They were so dynamic that I found myself questioning whether I was looking at her photographs of the items or if I was looking at the actual items encapsulated in glass frames.

The chilling image of a purple dress, burned in the left sleeve and torso areas, haunts my mind. I could almost see the woman who wore the dress. A ghost-like figure occupied the garment. For me, the photographs Ishiuchi took were a visualization of the terror the victims of the bombings endured.

There are arguments for and against whether or not Truman made the right call on the bombings. On one hand it was unethical. On the other hand, it probably saved more lives from years longer in war than the amount of lives that were taken in the bombings. But whether or not the Hiroshima bombing was the right choice, I only hope the world doesn’t resort to a nuclear weapons again. Something about wiping out 100,000 people with explosion, severe burns, birth defects resulting from radiation, and post-traumatic stress disorder seems to illustrate the worst of humanity.

“This happened to us as human beings,” an exhibit goer from the documentary said.

Thanks for reading.

KB

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