Journal: Liz Plagens
Nagasaki Bomb Museum

Every country has a history .One of the benefits of foreign travel is the chance to look at the history of your own country from an outside perspective. Sometimes, however, this can be a humbling experience. I was proud to be an American during my visit to Japan, but I was quite humbled as I toured the Atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki.

My grandfather fought in World War II. To this day, he, and much of his entire generation, still harbors negative feelings towards the Japanese. I have grown up always assuming America made the correct decision in bombing the Japanese at the end of the war. To visit the museum, however, and to truly understand the widespread devastation incurred, presents such a difficult conflict in my mind.

The museum is very powerful. In addition to various artifacts from the bombing, there are also various depictions of the bomb spreading over the city, as well as photographs of the aftermath, and many accounts from survivors. Some of the most amazing artifacts included clocks that had stopped at 11 :02 a.m., the exact time the bomb landed, or coins that had melted and fused together from the extreme temperatures from the bomb. The photographs were equally powerful, depicting various burns, injuries, and devastation. Perhaps the most gripping aspect of the museum, however, in my mind was the personal accounts from survivors. Stories of losing entire families, suffering horrible burns, or living with the after-effects of the bomb are truly heart wrenching.

We toured the museum in pairs, with a Japanese peer as a "tour guide". Prior to visiting the museum, I asked my tour guide if the Japanese people felt upset at Americans. She, like me, felt that the present generation of Japanese young people do not harbor bad feelings. She suggested that her grandparents would still harbor bad feelings, just as my grandfather especially cannot forget the horrors of the war years.

The museum ended optimistically, however, discussing plans for various peace talks and organizations. Our visit to Japan in itself speaks optimistically for the future. We, as young Americans, were welcomed and accommodated allover the country. The Japanese are a grateful, generous, and considerate people. The amicable relations that currently exist between America and J apan must continue so that we may avoid other tragedies like the one so powerfully displayed in the Nagasaki atomic bomb museum.