In an effort to prevent nuclear warfare from ever happening again, two survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings joined President Harry Truman’s grandson for an educational forum Tuesday. About 100 people attended the event at Bucks County Community College’s Newtown Campus.
Bombing survivors Setsuko Thurlow and Yasuaki Yamashita shared the stage with Clifton Truman Daniel, the oldest grandson of President Truman, who authorized use of the atomic bombs. Daniel, a former journalist and author of two books about his grandfather, is currently writing a book on the atomic bomb survivors.
Daniel, who recently visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki to commemorate the dead, said when he was growing up he didn’t comprehend the full impact the attacks had on the country. “I didn’t really understand at that time what it meant to the people of Japan,” said Daniel.
To this day, the survivors can recall vivid memories of the horrific attacks, which killed an estimated 300,000 people.
Thurlow, who was 13 years old when she survived the attack on Hiroshima, has been on the forefront of a movement to raise awareness of the atrocities of nuclear warfare.
She was lucky to survive; many perished -- “by one stroke, vaporized and carbonized,” Thurlow said. The attacks were horrific and should never happen again, she said.
“I’m not speaking for sympathy,” she said. “We have to be warning the world about the dangers of this. We don’t come out to tell you the sad story for sympathy. I think we all have to do a lot of thinking and find out what kind of world we are living in.”
Yamashita, who now lives in Mexico, was six years old when Nagasaki was bombed. “It was inferno,” he recalled. “This is just impossible to describe. There is no word to (describe) exactly what that scene was.”
Daniel is currently working with survivors to spread the word and ensure atomic bombings are a thing of the past. “I am lucky in that the survivors have accepted me,” he said, adding he’s trying to do everything possible “to make sure that this never ever happens again.”
Daniel was 15 when his grandfather died. He never discussed the bombings with him but gathered through conversations with relatives that, at first, he felt saddened by the devastation. Later, though, he defended his use of the atomic bombs, giving an interview to CBS in which he said he had no regrets about using them.
The forum was sponsored by the college’s Wordsmiths Reading Series and the BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action