Hiroshima bombing survivor returns to campus
November 1, 2018   //   By:   //   Arts & Culture, Campus & Community

A child born on August 6 1945 would be 73 years old in 2018. Even older are those who can remember the day—those who witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima first-hand.

While modern horrors are often recorded on video and instantly publicized on social media, accounts of World War II are only made known in grainy photographs and, more commonly, by oral history. Shigeko Sasamori is an orator whose experience as a 13-year-old during the Hiroshima bombing has inspired her to advocate for peace.

Sasamori has shared her memories those born after World War II. She came to Elizabethtown College in 2013 as part of a grant given to the Asian Studies program. Her arrival was prefaced by a “Peace and Remembrance” event at the library, origami paper crane making and a film screening.

Her positive mental attitude and pure and sincere hope for peace will surely inspire many people in the community as she did inspire me.”

Associate Professor of Japanese Nobuaki Takahashi said he has a personal connection with Sasamori, which urged him to bring her to campus in 2013 and now, five years later. Takahashi believes this is the best time to bring Sasamori back:

“Now, all the nuclear bomb survivors are getting very old, and, soon enough, there will be none who can speak about the incident from their first-hand experiences. Amazingly, Ms. Sasamori still travels alone all over the world to talk and advocate for peace.”

Similarly, those students who listened to Sasamori’s story have long since graduated. Therefore, Takahashi said he felt it was the right time to share the personal account of Hiroshima’s bombing.

“No peace talk or nuclear disengagement talk would hit people’s heart more than those by someone with first-hand experience such as her,” Takahashi said.

Sasamori’s talk is at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 in Gibble Auditorium, the same room in which her 2013 talk was held. Prior to her arrival, a documentary was screened in Gibble and posters from the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation were put on display at the Masters Center.

It is not just Sasamori’s story and peace advocacy that brings her to E-town. Takahashi said he and Sasamori developed a connection when they first met.

“I can keep going on about how wonderful she is as a person,” Takahashi said. “But a million words cannot sufficiently explain how positive, kind, funny and inspiring an individual she is. Just by seeing her, listening to her, and talking to her, everybody would see how great a person she is.”

While a talk about something as horrific as a bombing could be devastating, Takahashi says it is Sasamori’s unyielding positivity that makes her the perfect advocate for peace.

“She is one of the most positive individuals in my life after going through such hardship,” Takahashi said. “The term ‘hardship’ is simply from my perspective—she does not seem to take it as hardship or any sort of negative experience. Her positive mental attitude and pure and sincere hope for peace will surely inspire many people in the community as she did inspire me.”

The talk looks to the future, with Sasamori advocating for lasting peace and elimination of nuclear warfare. Advocating for peace after watching family and friends perish is almost literary in its representation of true hope.

About the Author :

Rebecca Easton is a junior at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She is currently studying English with a concentration in professional writing, and is pursuing a double minor in communications and business administration. Her primary interests in these fields include journalistic writing, copy editing and marketing. She currently works for the Elizabethtown College Center for Student Success as a writing tutor. She also works for the Office of Marketing and Communications.

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