Today marks seventy years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. On this day seventy years ago, my grandfather was working in the top-secret lab in Oak Ridge, Tennessee that was responsible for enriching the uranium that fueled the Hiroshima bomb. If he understood the extent of the project before news of the bombing crackled over the radio that day, I’ll never know. He would continue a career in nuclear weapons, as Oak Ridge was enlisted in the feverish race to build bigger and bigger bombs. How much his eventual mental and emotional collapse was fed by guilt, I can only guess. Oak Ridge taught secrecy. George died nearly four years before his daughter-in-law, my mother, held me in a Chicago living room and wept in a state of postpartum despair over the possibility that she had brought a daughter into a world doomed to nuclear annihilation.
Now I am twenty-seven, one year older than George was seventy years ago, and today, I am in Hiroshima.
How do we walk through a landscape that has seen this sort of death?