On this day 64 years ago Hiroshima experienced the most horrific effects of war when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city by American forces during World War II. Every year on this day the Peace Bell is rung at 8:15am, the time when the bomb was dropped, and sirens are sounded all over the city.
What is so special about the ceremony, which is held in front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims in the Peace Park, is that as well as paying respect to the victims and their families it also looks to the future and emphasises the importance of peace. The Peace Declaration is read out by the Mayor and sent to every country in the World.
The ceremony is open to the public and friends of mine who attended said that the citizens of Hiroshima could not have been more welcoming and actually thanked them for coming. Some people who visit Japan often bypass Hiroshima expecting it to be quite a depressing and sombre place but this is certainly not the case. The Peace Park and memorial museum do highlight the sickening realities of nuclear weapons but at the same time they are peaceful and reflective places to visit. You will find that this reflective atmosphere is confined mostly to the peace park and the rest of the city is modern and lively with the people of Hiroshima having a positive outlook on life. I have visited Hiroshima many times and witnessing the horrors of the past juxtaposed with the vibrant modern city that stands today demonstrates the amazing resilience of the human spirit.