Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Nuclear Troika

I have been so busy lately that I almost forgot that today was August 6.

I used to live in Hiroshima back in 1975 and 1976. My first job out of college was working for an offshore drilling contractor. They were having two drilling rigs (the “Ocean Ranger” and “Ocean Bounty”) built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Hiroshima, Japan. I was on the owner’s site team for the “Bounty”. I was single and had a small apartment just north of the center of the city. I passed the “Hiroshima Dome” and Peace Park every day on my way to work. I walked in the park during the memorial ceremonies on the 30th anniversary and saw the river filled with thousands of paper lanterns floating downstream. These lanterns represented the souls of the dead.

Hiroshima was a bustling city back then. It held many attractions for a single twenty-something. But at no time did I feel any animosity from the Japanese except for the occasional hard stare from one of the older residents of the city. In fact, I was often mistaken for one of the American players on the Hiroshima Carps, the local baseball team. (I guess we Americans all look alike) This was good for getting more than a few free drinks on a Saturday night.

About 20 years later I happened to be in Washington, DC at the same time that the Smithsonian had the controversial “Enola Gay” exhibit. I had time to kill before my flight, so I stashed my luggage and caught a taxi to see that famous aircraft.

Then, a few years ago, Col. Tibbets was doing a book signing at the D Day Museum in New Orleans. I was almost the last person in line but I finally got to spend a few seconds with him and his wife. He had been signing books for several hours and yet he was as gracious as if he had just started. You always think about what you should have said after the fact and this was no different. I should have thanked him for ending the war, thereby sparing the life of my future father-in-law who would return to the US, get married and produce my future wife.

So that’s my nuclear troika: Hiroshima – Enola Gay – Paul Tibbets

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