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A Survivor’s Story


A Survivor`s Story

Editor`s note: welcomes Jerry Kenney to our growing list of contributors. Mr. Kenney is a travel writer in Northern California. He is a frequent traveler. He has been on all the seven continents and visited 100s of countries in every parts of the world.

Shortly after 8:00 am on a warm sunny summer day, 15-year-old Lee rode his bicycle past a domed government building toward a shop where he worked near the city`s main railroad station. Ten minutes later as he arrived at work, Lee saw a brilliant flash of light. Because his country was at war he immediately fell to the ground, covered his eyes, and plugged his ears with his fingers.

Moments later, the ground shook violently, and a powerful blast of air knocked his head to the ground and blew his lunch box sixty feet away from where he was lying. Lee`s skin was severely burned, and he was in great pain. His friends used lubricating oil to cleanse Lee`s skin and wounds.

In the chaos that followed the explosion, dazed and confused, Lee walked past buildings that had been completely destroyed by the blast and others that were on fire. It took him more than twelve hours to walk the ten miles back to his home. At first, his mother did not recognize him because his skin was covered with dirt, blood, and rashes. In the following years, Lee`s mother and his family feared that like so many of their neighbors, Lee would die due to the extensive burns and excruciating pain he was fighting to overcome. He would suffer from hepatitis and severe fevers for the rest of his life. On the day of the explosion, 70,000 people in his city had died, and within five months the total reached 140,000.

Food had been in short supply for several years, and the average caloric intake for civilians in his country was just 78% of what needed to maintain health. Years of malnutrition contributed to the death toll of the bombing.

The day that changed Lee`s life was August 6, 1945. The city was Hiroshima. The domed government building is now known to the world as the Peace Dome. Lee was fortunate to survive. He had ridden his bicycle directly beneath the hypocenter where the atomic bomb had exploded just ten minutes before detonation.

Now in his late eighties, Lee Jong Keung told us this story. His family had lost their farm in Korea following the 1910 Japanese invasion and colonization of the country. His parents had come to Japan to make a living. The Lee family faced discrimination and cruel treatment in Japan before and during World War II. Even today, Mr. Lee has never received medical treatment or compensation from the Japanese government.

He is not bitter. He has a family and a cause. His business card reads "... for a world without Nuclear Weapons."


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A Survivor’s Story

copyrite: Jerry Kenney - 2018

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