Obama Makes History at Hiroshima

'We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 4:50 AM CDT
Updated May 27, 2016 6:42 AM CDT
Obama at Hiroshima: 'We Come to Mourn the Dead'
President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the Atomic Bomb Dome seen at rear, speak in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama made history Friday by becoming the first sitting US president to visit the site of history's first atomic strike. "We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past," he said. "We come to mourn the dead." Accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the BBC reports. Seventy-one years ago, "on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," Obama said. "A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself." More:

  • Obama did not apologize for the American strike that killed 140,000 people, but he called for a "moral awakening" and a world without nuclear weapons, the AP reports.

  • Before the Hiroshima visit, Obama told American service members at the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corps base that it was "an opportunity to honor the memory of all who were lost during WWII" and to show how "two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends," the BBC reports.
  • The White House made it clear that Obama would not be "revisiting" the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but some protesters, including some Hiroshima survivors, still demanded an apology. "I want Obama to say 'I'm sorry.' If he does, maybe my suffering will ease," a 73-year-old survivor with three kinds of cancer tells Reuters.
  • In China, foreign ministry officials said that it's important to also remember victims of Japan's wartime aggression in places like Nanjing, the Guardian reports. The state-run China Daily declared that the "atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of Japan's own making."
  • Sources tell the Washington Post that while the White House doesn't want to suggest that the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hiroshima bombing were equivalent acts, Abe is likely to attend ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7 this year.
(More Hiroshima stories.)

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