On Aug. 6, 1945, Keijiro Matsushima was 16-years-old. That day, he was sitting in school when he watched the atomic bomb fall on his city of Hiroshima, Japan.
Sixty-four years later, Matsushima, one of the few survivors of the bombing, will tell his story today from 2 to 3 p.m. in the basement of the Durrell Center.
Matsushima is one of 235,569 living “Hibakusha,” a Japanese term used to describe the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. In his speech, which is free and open to the public, Matsushima will give his account of the bombing followed by a one-hour question-and-answer session.
Campus Activities and Gaining Understanding through Involvement, Diversity, and Education, commonly known as GUIDE, is sponsoring Matsushima’s visit.
After Mark Schaefer, a Colorado Springs history teacher, heard the A-bomb survivor speak in Japan last year, he sent Matsushima a letter of appreciation.
Matsushima responded, saying he would travel to the United States in 2009 to visit family and he would share his story with high schools and colleges around Colorado.
“It is a great opportunity to hear a first-hand experience from a survivor,” Schaefer said, adding that Matsushima’s story changed his view of U.S. action in WWII.
“I went with the mindset that we should drop the bomb,” Schaefer said. “After hearing him speak, I thought there may have been other alternatives.”
Some people who had posted comments on a Colorado Springs TV station Web site believed Matsushima was speaking for political purposes, namely peace. Schaefer, however, insisted the survivor has no agenda other than to share his story.
Matsushima refuses to take any money, even if offered, he is only here to send a message of peace, Schaefer said.
Many students don’t know the other side to these bombings, and to hear Matsushima’s personal story is a rare opportunity, he said. Even the Japanese are interested in how Americans react to his story and his message.
“Hearing his viewpoint is something that is unfamiliar to Americans,” freshmen engineering major Michael Waite said. “Every American needs to hear the human side to this conflict.”
Staff writer Matt Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.