Barack Obama, who became the first serving U.S. president to visit Hiroshima since the World War II nuclear attack on Friday, said the “memory must never fade.”
While never apologizing for the August 6, 1945, attack, Obama remembered the world’s first nuclear bombing in Hiroshima when “death fell from the sky and the world was changed.”
Obama spoke to two survivors of the attack that claimed the lives of at least 140,000 while on his visit. In an address, he called on nations to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.
— CNN (@CNN) May 27, 2016
On Friday, people lined the streets as Obama’s motorcade entered the city on the historic visit.
Accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before walking to the Peace Memorial Park. In the park, guests were seated just in front of the curved, concrete cenotaph that pays tribute to the dead with an eternal flame burning just beyond it.
Both men laid a wreath at the eternal flame, and Obama signed a guest book, writing, “We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 27, 2016
Obama noted in his address that the bombing had shown that “mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.”
Obama said the world must never forget what happened at Hiroshima.
“”We come to remember the terrible force unleashed in the not-so-distant past. It allows us to fight complacencies, fuels our moral imagination and allows us to change.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 27, 2016
Obama said the souls of the people who died in Hiroshima “speak to us and they ask us to look inward and take stock of how we are and what we might become,” according to the Washington Post.
Of nuclear weapons, Obama said, “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”
He added, “The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is the future we can choose. A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”
President Obama spoke to survivors and hugged 79-year-old Shigeaki Mori, which BBC News noted will resonate with the Japanese public.
— Nikkei Asian Review (@NAR) May 27, 2016
According to opinion polls, the majority of the Japanese people welcome Obama’s visit and few seem to mind Obama’s absence of an apology.
Obama arrived at Iwakuni Marine Corp base earlier in the day after leaving the G7 summit.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 27, 2016
Upon his arrival, Obama spoke to personnel.
“This is an opportunity to honor the memory of all who were lost during World War Two.”
Obama praised the U.S.-Japan alliance as “one of the strongest in the world,” and said his visit is “a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged – how our two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends and the strongest of allies,” according to the Associated Press.
[Photo by AP Images]