August 5, 7:15PM was the exact time in Montreal, seventy years ago, that the first nuclear bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, half a world away. The people who gathered this year at the Japanese Pavillon at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, to hear the Hiroshima bell gifted to the city of Montreal rung, the speeches given, the songs sung, know a different world…a world in which we are connected each to the other through media of all kinds. With every bomb that is dropped on this earth and its people, no matter where, all of us are affected whether we choose to be aware of this or not.
My choice to go to the Memorial this year came from that knowing and my feeling of impotence to change the direction of devastation to this earth and its people. I am glad I went. It was a long trip from Pigeon Hill and then NDG in Montreal, walking to buses, on and off metros, feeling my wobbly feet. Being with the others, mostly gray hair like me, who also made that effort infused me with hope. Hearing the bell struck pierced my heart and I asked myself where was I seventy years ago ? Probably playing in the field next to our apartment after dinner, not wanting to heed the call to come in to bed.
One of the guests at the memorial this year was Mrs Shibata. She was only 20 miles outside Hiroshima at the time the bomb exploded and lit up everything around her, changing her life. She was just starting her day at 8:15am when 66,000 people out of the 255,000 inhabitants of Hiroshima were killed in that initial blast. As of this year, Japan has acknowledged the death of 297,684 hibakusha (those in and around Hiroshima who have died after the bomb from its effects (burns, radiation, etc.). Mrs Shibata is a hibakusha who has survived and now lives in Montreal with her husband who is a doctor at McGill University Health Centre. Shaking her hand, looking into her eyes helped me realize how connected we really are, soul to soul. That explosion did change all of us, no matter where we lived or even if we were born as yet. Thank you Mr and Mrs Shibata and to all those who made the journey to the memorial, and all those who are making many kinds of efforts to bring more consciousness and change to our world.
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