They say most people have one or more defining childhood incidents — something that sets the course of their adult life and molds their personality. Filmmaker Linda Hoaglund had one, and it was so striking that to this day she can still remember the flush on her face, the tingling of her skin and the sensation that what she was experiencing would stay with her forever.

"I don't think I've ever discussed this at length with my Japanese friends," says Hoaglund. "But for me, it's the one paragraph in my life that I keep rewriting."

At the time, Hoaglund was 10 years old and living in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the daughter of American missionaries working in Japan. There were no international schools in Yamaguchi and Hoaglund had gone with all the other children in her neighborhood to the local elementary school. One day the teacher wrote on the blackboard two words, "Hiroshima" and "America," and at that moment, every pair of eyes in the room locked on Hoaglund. For a brief moment, she couldn't breathe.