The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
JUNE 16, 1953
HIROSHIMA, Japan—It is a long trip by train from Osaka to Hiroshima. I don't think I have ever seen so much water in my life. Everything looks flooded as a result, I suppose, of yesterday's typhoon.
It must be serious for the farmers for those little wheat fields are inundated and while the rice may be all right it looks as though much of it is washed away. Hooded mountains were in the distance most of the way here. There were a number of American officers and men aboard our train, almost all of them with cameras and they had a field day taking photographs!
Meals on the Japanese trains are pretty good, I think. You have to say what time you are coming in, then they keep your place for you, much the way they do on European trains.
To arrive in Hiroshima is an emotional experience. Here is where the first A-bomb ever to be dropped on human beings, actually was used.
The people of the U.S. believe that the President and our military leaders thought long and carefully before they used this dreaded weapon. We know that while the head of the state must think first of the welfare of his own people, consideration was given to the fact that if the war went on, there would be in many parts of the world great loss of life and much damage done, and in Japan itself step by step fighting from one end to the other would mean complete devastation and incalculable loss of life. In spite of this conviction we still cannot see a city and be told of the area that was destroyed, the people who died or were injured, some of them still suffering from the results of those wounds; we cannot go and look at the model of the city showing what it looked like after the bomb had dropped and fire had swept through the city; we can't see the photographs of some of the victims without a deep sadness. To see the orphanage where children whose parents died are still being cared for is impossible without wishing with our whole hearts that men could learn from this that the time has come when we know too well how to destroy and we must learn instead how to prevent destruction.
It is useless to say that Germany started the war and began the research which we were then obliged to take over and which led to the discovery of the atom bomb.
I can remember only too well my husband's feeling and the feeling of the people of the U.S. when we first heard of Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was only the final action which resulted from years of growing misunderstandings and antipathies throughout the world. Out of all this came Hiroshima. But it is not only here that civilian men and women suffered. All over the world civilians suffered as a result of the last war and the increase in our power of destruction. So it seems to me the only really helpful thing we can do is to pledge ourselves to strive for the elimination of the causes of war and for the greater awareness of the people, and to bringing about such arrangements as can only be made through the use of the U.N.. If we use the machinery set up through an organization such as the U.N., time must elapse before wars can be begun, people may then understand a little better and may have more chance to be heard.
As one contemplates Hiroshima, one can only say God grant to men greater wisdom in the future.
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 16, 1953
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
- Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance
archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
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