Electric Dreams

My Mother Died in Hiroshima

Jean Campbell

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Campbell, Jean (2004, May ). A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE  April 2004: My Mother Died in Hiroshima.
Electric Dreams 11(5).

During the month of April, while members of the World Dreams Peace Bridge watched in horror at the deaths of hundreds of people in fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, a very interesting conversation sprang up on the Bridge, having to do with not the current war but with World War Two. Because of the depth of this conversation, I would like to share it with you.

I believe it demonstrates the value of people around the world dreaming together and talking together.

The original post came from Jeremy in Korea, and contained the riveting title, "My Mother Died in Hiroshima."  Here is what he said:

Dear Dream Family,

My father was Manager for the Budget for the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, so my family lived there after WWII from the late 40's through 51. Laboratories there processed nuclear fuels for atomic bomb research and production. My mother contracted Breast Cancer at the age of 33 and died at 34. The last year of her life I wasn't able to see her because she was in hospital in New York and my father was bound to stay in Oak Ridge because of the Korean War. I was 4 when she left me and 5 when she died. Only now, searching the web on a whim did I realize the possibility that she might have been exposed to radiation in Oak Ridge, maybe on a tour of facilities with a friend, and so died just as many died in Hiroshima. Here are the extracts from Oak Ridge Radiation:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee. All cancer mortality was found to have a positive correlation with radiation exposure and indicates that sensitivity to radiation-induced cancer increases with older ages at exposure. (Study No. 5)

A second and earlier study found a low overall death rate when compared with the general public, which is consistent with a "healthy worker effect." However the authors also found an increased risk of dying from all cancers is 10 times greater than extrapolations from high dose studies of Japanese A-bomb survivors. ( Study No. 6)

A third study found that adjustment for date of hire, employment duration, exposure to beryllium, lead and mercury had little effect on radiation risk estimates. ( Study No. 7)

Oak Ridge Y-12 weapons Plant, Tennessee. Total mortality was low as expected for this group indicating a "healthy worker effect." The study also found elevated death rates for brain cancer, several lymphopoetic (immune system) cancers, prostate, kidney and pancreas. Excess death from breast cancer among women was found. The authors found excess lung cancer as their main finding and urged that this disease warrants continued surveillance. (Study No. 8)

An earlier study found similar risks, with a marginal dose-response trend for lung cancer only. (study No.9)

She named me Fred, Peace, and it is no accident that I have become a peace worker. Yes, my mother died in Hiroshima.



Because there are people from many countries who participate in the World Dreams discussion group, I was curious to see what the responses would be. The next post came from Kotaro in Japan:

Dear Jeremy,

I cannot find any words. Your mother had to leave you at so young age. She is/was another Hibakusha, right? Depleted Uranium bombs are making other small Hiroshimas in Iraq....sorry, I cannot continue writing.

Warm wishes and hopes,

Kotaro also created a beautiful mandala to express his feelings, saying: "Hibakusha means the atomic bomb victim or survivor of atom-bombing. And...as I have no word to express my sadness, I made a mandala according to my feelings reminding of you and your parents."

From Germany, Ralf wrote:

Dear Jeremy!

I hope I didn't hurt your feelings with my dream posting. Maybe I did with my comment on what synchronicities I'm seeing.  Please excuse me, Jeremy! Of course your mother didn't throw a bomb. I guess you are right to suspect, she may have suffered from radiation of facilities.

What I want to point out is the sad fact - we often forget - that all the suffering we cause, in a way comes back to us.

It is sad, that depleted uranium is used for bullets meant to kill the
enemies in Iraq. But now we know, this deed returned effect to those who fired the bullets. Largely unaware of the contaminated load, they were bringing to the land and people there. All this suffering has been caused - as some politicians say - for me too, for a free and democratic world. I sometimes feel, like I press the button... like in my dream.

It is then of course cynical and cruel on top of that to not inform the soldiers of the danger. Those, who knew it  (the politicians, weapon producers, atomic industry) didn't suffer from radiation, seemingly. A cruel and hidden game of greed and power. That needs to be unveiled of course. I'm tired now, but can't sleep. Did get up in the middle of the night and check mailbox. Sometimes it is simply too much to get rest and find peaceful sleep and dreams.  Sometimes I feel like finding all the battles of the globe in my little everyday life, too. Small misunderstandings leading to great struggles, but there are also peaceful and healing situations.

Keep on your good peace work, Jeremy!  This night is meant for rainbows and candles, I'll give it another try.


To which Jeremy replied:

Dear Ralf,

I must've been writing my reply the same second you we sending your 2nd post. No, don't worry, you didn't hurt my feelings at all. In fact, I appreciated your dream and your concern. It's true what you say about depleted uranium, and it is a crime not to inform or protect the soldiers to deliver it to - its a crime to use it at all. The poor civilians, especially who pick it up in the desert not knowing what it is - even children, and of course the children born of contaminated parents.

And you are near to Cherno ... and the fear and reality of contaminated crops and streams.

I thank you for your warm and heart-felt concern.


Clearly Jeremy's post had struck deeply into the hearts of many people on the Bridge.  And then came this post from Diana in Washington state:

I'm so sorry, Jeremy for your loss.  I don't understand the shortsightedness of actions taken throughout recent history.  It might be a bomb, it might be a drug, it might be an environmental displacement or introduction of a creation.  It might just be my opinion, but why don't people ask themselves, "What happens tomorrow?"  It's not just war, so many things would not be a crisis today or I'm quite sure tomorrow, if people chose to recognize facts
that they themselves already know.  It must be greed in many cases.

The reason I say recent history, is because we have the ability to devastate in a major way.  I suppose the ability to devastate  through introduction of species in an unprepared biosystem isn't new, though.  (rambling)

My mother was a child in Japan at the time of the bombings not so far from Nagasaki.  She had already been an orphan for awhile before the war started, but still had a home.  It burned to the ground, and she told me how she ran back into the house to save a funeral shrine house.  Her brother disappeared and she didn't know he was alive until about 1985 or so.  She's actually never seen him since somewhere in the 1940's.  He's still alive, in Tokyo. He thinks of her as a little girl, and sends her small toys sometimes. She's told me a few things that were so very sad.  People dying in the streets, and crying out for help, and you have to walk on. I think I've only asked her twice to talk about it in my whole life.  Not a nice place to go.  When I was in high school, they played some footage from documentary films some night, an extra-curricular activity, that graphically showed and described how victims died.

A friend had sent a thought provoking site a month ago, a pictorial ride through Chernobyl: http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/

I totally understand why my mother is the way she is.  It's the way she had to be.  What bothers me is when people forget the individuals who are called to serve in a war.  What does it do?  Creates or confirms some society boundary.   It's confusing because some boundaries are necessary.  What can be done to stop terrorists or at least quarantine them to a point that they can't organize?  What can be done, so that people realize the extent of many lives lost to achieve an end?  The thing is, there are probably few that are so absolved to create this tragedy, but why must so many die to achieve the vision of an errant focus of some terrorist.  Why do people follow ideals that don't include all?  What can be done to change that, so that irregardless of belief, need, want, self, all work together toward goals that are best for the all?

I know I'm confusing, because I talk about individuals and all, but each is a part of all.  I really think most people want peace.  How do you stop icons or charismatic types that don't?  Education.  Sad it won't happen overnight.  It needs to start everywhere at once.  Here too.


By the time I finished reading Diana's post, it was clear to me that I wanted to share this profound conversation with the broader dream community. I sent a message to the group asking for permission use what was being said in this View from the Bridge, pointing out how unusual it was to find a place where people from the US, German and Japan could share such feelings. Immediately Kathy responded from Australia:

Jean - I've only seen your email because I saw Kotaro's reply! BUT the combination is even more amazing: we also have Americans whose "parents"  fought and bombed the Japanese, just as we have Kotaro; we also have Australians who fought the Japanese and the Germans and the Turkish!!! (our day of military celebration is ANZAC Day - we celebrate a huge DEFEAT of us by Turkish soldiers when we "landed", really invaded Turkey during World War 1.  And the reason so many were killed was because of either British bungling or more likely British 'strategic' planning in which colonial troops were easily sacrificed for british opps sorry!! the greater good!    I suppose we also have someone from England??? We are a wonderful dream body of peace!

And then came the response from Ilkin in Turkey:

Don't worry, we are celebrating Ancak day too (with many wisitors from Australia, grandchildren of the soldiers etc). My grandmother used to tell us those days she lived in the middle of the war (the occupation troops made their house headquarters) and she always told about Australians in a good way. Love- ilkin

Ilkin also sent a post in which she said to Jeremy:

Jeremy, yesterday I happened to see the opening of an exhibition at an old Jewish help house (which I made a part of the interview I showed you about the sinking Jewish boats at the Bosphorus during 2nd WW). They said that it is for the anniversary of holocoust, from a concentration camp near Prag. There were photos of the children too. What I learned is, it was a (I can't remember the name) special concentration camp with painting etc activities where they sent four thousand children and only 4 (or may be 2) could get out alive. The paintings were from 1942- 1943 (some 40- 50 of more  than 6.000 they found). It was interesting that there was not so much violence or war in the paintings (may be it was the begining period). I walked around and look at the paintings, thinking of you. I think, I understand the importance of "Peace Train" once more.

Love to you all - ilkin

Kathy got another response from May, who lives now in San Francisco:

Hey, Kathy and all, don't forget the Chinese when we talk about Hiroshima. I grew up in World War II, remember the fear and hatred we had for the Japanese. Though my family was fortunate enough to move to the save region the Japanese were pushing closer and closer. That kind of fear and panic, feeling your back is against the wall with no more ground to retreat. I think you were all too young to experience that war. We CELEBRATED when the
bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered. Yes, Kathy, we do make a good peace group. "Peace" maybe just a concept unless someone has lived through terror. I admire Chayim for that reason.

Let us continue our peace work in as an honest way as we can and encourage each other.         May

Followed immediately by a second post:

Dear Bridge folks, my last mail about  my own experience of fear at the end of W.W.II, and how I may relate to the concept of "peace" needs to be corrected. The way it was sounded like as if only those who had gone through fear would truly embrace peace. This is definitely NOT true! I have never thought of this before until now:  how do personal experiences with fear affect how each person understands/relates to "PEACE".

Time for bed and I'm not thinking clearly so here is wishing you wise dreams,          May

In some very deep ways, the entire group was struggling to comprehend the enormity of violence, the kinds of feelings that could lead for example to a photograph in a recent issue of Newsweek which shows a smiling Iraqi boy, maybe two years of age, holding the rifle one of the smiling men seated around the room has given him to play with.

Kotaro responded to May's post with the following answer:

Dear May,

I never forget China and those people who suffered and murdered by Japanese, I dare not use the word Japanese army because I know in those days during World War 2 most of the Japanese were in superior complex to other Asian countries, Corea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and so on. There is no 'if' in the history but I think I would be certainly one of them if I was born in those years, I would try to be a good soldier for Hirohito and God blessed country. This imagination always terrified me. I don't want to use the concept of generations here, but just wish to say what I was thinking in a small park of Nagasaki was beyond the countries. I wrote 'everything has changed in that summer 1954' which means nuclear weapons are not just extended weapons, they come to have another dimension for mankind. And yet I do not neglect any kind of victims of that War.

In 1960's I could watch the TV program of World War 2 that was made of full color film documentary which were took by Moupack, the American Navy's Film crews. Most of the film was on pacific war, including Kamikaze attacks. I come to hate to be being a human when I watch that program. I saw many Zero fighters attacked U.S. Navy's Gun ships. I didn't just feel compassion with
the pilots on Kamikaze, but I was imagining those soldiers on the bridge and their lovers, parents, kids, and the very cameraman who was taking those scenes. Being a human has a possibilities to be an invaders for other people and simultaneously to be a victim.

And also I tried not to miss any chance to see or read on Japanese invasion. Through this my experience at least I could know what kind of actions could be done when I lose wide and high point of view.

When I was high school boy in 1969-71, a song was popular among young people. The title is 'the children who don't know the War'. I did hate this song. I was crying out in my mind 'You don't know the war? You just don't try to know the war!'

In 1970, Chinese government announced ' we will forgive, but never forget.' to prime minister Eisaku Tanaka. I felt a kind of uneasiness reading this expression on paper. If we remain on this level forever, China will be accused by Tibetan people someday and announced by same words, and Japan could say to U.S. A. the same words for Atomic Bombs and at once Japan would be denounced by most of Asian countries and winners countries of WW2.

It seems unceasing.

But the war is unceasing on this planet. Yes, I've used the word 'planet', not the earth. This notion is not so strange today because of development for searching universe and global communications through internet just like we are doing here.

Not to escape from watching the bloody and sad things are happening now and at same time to have...what shall I say, ...cosmic sense will be much more and more important when we wish for the peace.

Much love to you,

To this, May replied:

Dearest Kotaro: Here we are, a Japanese and a Chinese, with genuine affection for each other. As a matter of fact, dear friend, you, alone, have made more basic differences in my feelings toward the Japanese than any other single factor. I have felt close to you, respected you since the beginning. Your little flowers (photos that Kotaro has been sending) are the new stars in our Planet. Your mail today demonstrated the qualities in you that I cherished...

And after answering Kotaro's mail point-by-point, May concluded:

Exactly. How do we promote peace? By posts like these on the Bridge. Right, everybody? None of our hands are  totally without blood.

This month the Peace Bridge Aid for Traumatized Children Project sent money for a third shipment of therapeutic toys to Baghdad.  If you would like to join in that effort, please take a look at