NEW YORK – A Japanese-born Korean and a “Hiroshima Maiden” who both lived through the Aug. 6 atomic bombing of their city in the closing days of World War II recalled their experiences as guest speakers at a Brooklyn school on Monday and promoted their messages of peace.
Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of Harry S. Truman, the U.S. president who ordered the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, joined the survivors in the program.
“If you have not started yet, be aware, become more aware of what nuclear means and have an awareness towards abolition of nuclear weapons and wars and also the disarmament of nuclear weapons,” Lee Jongkeum, 85, told students in the packed auditorium at the Brooklyn Friends School.
Shigeko Sasamori, 81, was one of 25 Hiroshima Maidens who were invited to the United States in 1955 for reconstructive surgery. After the blast she was badly burned and eventually went through 35 operations. She was adopted by an American family and now lives in California.
“As long as I live I will speak all over the world to many people because I feel we went through such a horrible life, we should not have anybody go through experiences like we did,” she said, adding that the world is dangerous because of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Daniel, who is visiting schools in the area for the second time with hibakusha, emphasized the importance of hearing their accounts firsthand.
Students such as Jade Pollard connected to the stories and are inspired to “spread them.”
“It was shocking (to hear their firsthand accounts), but I really came out with this experience that these people are really working for a cause to stop something that is dangerous,” 15-year-old Pollard said.