Originally Published: August 10, 2015 6:02 a.m.
I have been fascinated by World War II since I was in middle school. My dad was a veteran of that war and did not want to talk to me about it, so I read every book I could find and took every class available on the subject.It took me a few years to understand the enormity of everything ... particularly the nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan. About 74,000 residents of Nagasaki, Japan, died Aug. 9, 1945. Earlier that week, on Aug. 6, 140,000 perished in Hiroshima.Both cities held 70th anniversary remembrance events this past week. Photos of survivors praying for the ones who didn't make it went around the world.I only hope hearing survivors relive the terror and seeing the photos will keep the horror of the bombings fresh in everyone's minds.Nuclear weapons have no place in our world. That sentiment was the point of the ceremonies.According to the Associated Press, representatives from 75 countries, including U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, were among those gathered under a tall white canopy Sunday morning at Nagasaki Peace Park. As a bell tolled, they observed a minute of silence at 11:02 a.m., the time when a U.S. B-29 plane dropped the atomic bomb. A message from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed calls to abolish nuclear weapons."I wholeheartedly join you in sounding a global rallying cry: No more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas," Ban said in a message read by Kim Won-soo, the acting U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs.That day 70 years ago in Nagasaki by the numbers: 240,000: Population of Nagasaki before the bombing. 74,000: Estimated death toll including those who died from radiation-related injuries and illness through Dec. 31, 1945. 435,000: Population of Nagasaki today. 70: Percent of Nagasaki that was destroyed. 20: Minutes after the bomb exploded that a "black rain" of highly radioactive particles started falling. 4 to 5: How many times higher the incidence of leukemia is among those exposed to radiation in Hiroshima or Nagasaki than in the general population. 8,500: Still-living people diagnosed with "atomic bomb syndrome," or illnesses definitively linked to radiation exposure in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, out of 170,000 who have developed cancers, liver and blood disorders and other health problems.***Sources: The Associated Press and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.- Robin Layton, editorFollow Robin Layton on Twitter @RobinLaytonAZ. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 1095, email@example.com or 928-533-7941.