Tears ran down her face as she described the immediate aftermath of the bomb.

Obama becomes 1st US president to visit Hiroshima bomb site

May 27, 2016 15:00 PM


Tears ran down her face as she described the immediate aftermath of the bomb.

"I could hear schoolchildren screaming: 'Help me! Help me!'" she said. "It was too pitiful, too horrible. Even now it fills me with emotion."

Han Jeong-soon, the 58-year-old daughter of a Korean survivor, was also at the park Friday.

"The suffering, such as illness, gets carried on over the generations — that is what I want President Obama to know," she said. "I want him to understand our sufferings."

Obama's visit is a moment 71 years in the making. Other American presidents considered coming, but the politics were still too sensitive, the emotions too raw. Jimmy Carter visited as a former president in 1984.

Even now, when polls find 70 percent of the Japanese support Obama's decision to come to Hiroshima, Obama's visit is fraught.

His choreographed visit will be parsed by people with many agendas.

There are political foes at home who are ready to seize on any hint of an unwelcome expression of regret.

There are Koreans who want to hear the president acknowledge the estimated 20,000-40,000 of their citizens who were among the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are blast survivors who want Obama to listen to their stories, to see their scars — physical and otherwise.

Tears ran down her face as she described the immediate aftermath of the bomb.
"I could hear schoolchildren screaming: 'Help me! Help me!'" she said. "It was too pitiful, too horrible. Even now it fills me with emotion."

There are activists looking for a pledge of new, concrete steps to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

There are American former POWs who want the president to fault Japan for starting the war in the Pacific.

Obama will try to navigate those shoals by saying less, not more.

The dropping of the bomb, he said Thursday, "was an inflection point in modern history. It is something that all of us have had to deal with in one way or another."


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