The bus rounded the corner and there it was: one of the most recognizable ruins in the world. Today we were in Hiroshima, standing across from the A-Bomb Dome.
The fractured, skeletal remains of the building stopped us in our tracks. We just stood there, imagining the blast blowing out the windows and peeling the copper off the dome, then the fire consuming the building as the walls and roof collapse.
As we walked through Peace Memorial Park, we came to a memorial standing in a plaza. This is a place that all Japanese know, study, and respect. It is about the story of Sadako, a young Japanese girl who survived the blast and subsequent effects of radiation poisoning. She believed that if she folded 1,000 origami paper cranes, she would be cured of her illness. She succeeded in folding her cranes, but sadly succumbed to leukemia. Today, school children from all over Japan come bearing gifts of folded cranes to honor her memory. The offerings are placed in cases surrounding this monument, topped with a statue of a girl holding a giant folded paper crane.
Further along the park is the Peace Flame, which will burn until there are no more nuclear weapons on the earth. At the far end of the park is the Peace Memorial Museum—a sobering place to visit. Personal stories, exhibits, and artifacts from the event fill the museum. Even children who are usually boisterous and playful are engrossed with the history on display before them.
One photo I took is from a rose garden (with names like Hope and Peace) with the A-Bomb Dome in the background, to me it is a symbol of death and rebirth; the past and the future of a city and its people.