The Little Boy is an extract from the life of a child who lived through the atom bomb horror 69 years ago and survived with great difficulty.
“I well remember what happened on August 6th, 1945. I was looking out of the school window. I was a little boy myself, but I was unaware that a 4-meter ‘little boy’ would change my entire life.”
The Little Boy he spoke of was a bomb made by placing some 64 kg of enriched uranium inside a cylinder made of armored steel.
This atom bomb, said to have the heat of the Sun, was dropped on Hiroshima from 9,400 meters up. The energy given off burned and flattened an area of several square kilometers and destroyed all living things through its radioactive effects. The smoke cloud that developed over Hiroshima rose some 3,000 kilometers.
80,000 people died instantly and 140,000 were injured when the bomb first exploded. 60,000 more people had died by 1950 due to their injuries and to radioactive fallout. Some 60,000 of the 90,000 buildings in this Japanese city were destroyed in a moment. Hiroshima was literally flattened.
The aftermath of the explosion was even more terrifying. In the first few seconds, people outside the immediate hypocenter were literally turned into lumps of carbon. The deadly heat burned and destroyed all the tissues in their bodies. Nobody survived in a 250 meter area around the detonation site; they were instantaneously vaporized . In some places where there had been people and objects, all that remained were eerie shadows, much like the effect of flash photography. Some people were caught by the bomb while sitting on steps, others while riding bikes, some while buying bread and others while playing in the school playground.
So great was the heat that even stone such as granite, steel and glass burned, leaving nothing of buildings behind. Children’s schoolbooks, toys, trees, houses, and roads were burned and obliterated in matter of seconds.
The situation of those who escaped the explosion was far worse. The thermal energy given off by the fireball caused fatal burns. The very few people who lost all their clothes and possessions but somehow survived still remember and describe the horror of those days.
A city with an 85% civilian population was selected for the bomb. The USA had lost more than 100,000 soldiers in the war with Japan, while Japan had lost more than one million lives. Despite the horror of Hiroshima, Japan decided to keep fighting, and the USA dropped a second bomb three days later. Forty thousand more people died with the bomb dropped on Nagasaki; Japan capitulated , and the bloody war came to an end.
The USA announced that atom bombs were used in revenge for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and to put an end to the Second World War. But is it really necessary to cause such terrible losses to put an end to a war? Of course not; we have the opportunity to learn from history and never go through that horror again. The first thing that needs to be done is to take a common decision to put an end to the arms race.
Today it is known that there are eight countries who officially produce nuclear weapons and maintain them in their arsenals, while there are a large number of other countries believed to possess them. Let us look at some figures to better understand the scale of the economics of weaponry in the world:
Global GNP is $86 trillion. Every year, $2.8 trillion goes to the arms industry and military spending. At the top of the list is the USA at $600,400,000,000 , followed by China at $112,200,000,000 . Russia comes in third at $68,200,000,000.
There is one striking thing about this list: The USA, China, Russia, Great Britain and France, all high up on the list, are all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Permanent members of an organization established to bring about world peace and disarmament.
The arms race, which has reached unbelievable dimensions, inevitably gives rise to painful consequences. Innocent women and children suffer the worst in wars. More than 2,000,000 children have died in wars over the last few years; millions more have been permanently disabled. More than 12 million children have been forced to leave their homes for their own safety. One-third of them are currently living in refugee camps.
Yet we could change this right away. With the money spent on armaments, all the poverty in the world could be eliminated within a few years. If the approximately $3 trillion spent on the arms industry and military expenditures each year were used to prevent poverty, the problem of poverty could be completely eliminated. If the billions of dollars spent on the development of nuclear weapons technologies were used to develop new equipment in the field of heath or to find new drugs to eradicate diseases, the world would be an infinitely better place where all could live at ease.
It is entirely possible to build a world where guns are silent and there is no slaughter or suffering. In order to build such a world, we need to seize every opportunity to tell people of the importance of peace and love. Let us not forget that the world has enough resources for all, but that using them properly is up to us.