Steven Leeper oversees Hiroshima's commemoration of the Aug. 6, 1945, dropping of the atomic bomb. The US presence at the memorial ceremony has grown, with even President Truman's grandson in attendance this year.
At 8:15 a.m. on every Aug. 6 since 1952, a moment of silence descends over the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan, to commemorate the estimated 200,000 victims of the first atomic bomb deployed in a wartime act of aggression.
Among the attendees are family members of the deceased, foreign and domestic dignitaries, and visitors from around the world. The silence is signaled by the solemn ringing of a Peace Bell by a bereaved family member and a local schoolgirl. Like the annual 9/11 memorial services in America, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan, broadcast live and replayed throughout the day, is almost impossible to avoid: a haunting 24-hour reminder both of past horrors and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation.
Since 2009, when President Obama announced that he sought to visit Hiroshima, stories of a more proactive American engagement with one of history's worst nightmares have grown. In 2010, John Roos became the first US ambassador to attend the ceremony, and he was here again this morning (“very moving and powerful,” he tweeted). Also on hand today were Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of President Harry Truman, who authorized the bomb, and Ari Beser, grandson of Jacob Beser, the only person involved in both atomic bomb deployments, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
They joined an estimated 50,000 visitors from 70 nations for a ceremony and declaration of peace that will be redelivered via live stream this morning at 9:15 EST.
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