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  • Standing on the second floor of a museum on Dejima Island in Nagasaki, Japan, I chanced to look out the window to the pool below and quickly snapped this photo.

    Nagasaki was a hard place to visit, harder for me than Hiroshima. While both bombings ostensibly could have been avoided, Nagasaki, being second, felt all the more tragic. So much loss, such complete destruction. And for what?

    Nagasaki wasn't even the primary target on August 9th, 1945 but the first--Kokura in the heart of Kita-Kyushu City--was overcast that morning. How cruel the weather can be.

    The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was kilometers off target, destroying, among scores of other buildings, a POW camp. The museum has tales of Allied Troops describing a morning literally full of friendly fire.

    Dejima--for hundreds of years the only Japanese soil on which foreigns could stand without fear of execution--has its own checked past and the museums there do a decent job of conveying the scope of the human drama which unfolded on this small, man-made island. Think Madame Butterfly, then multiple.

    To turn then from the heaviness of the past and see this child blithely skipping across the stones in the pool, unaware of the gravitas seeped into the soil around him, temporarily lifted the weight of history off of me as well.

    I smiled then in gratitude and still grin at it today when I see this image.
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