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We must continue to hope history will not repeat itself

Wars of every type usually result in mass casualties, with most of them civilian, as powerful weapons destroy life whether it is military personnel or the innocent. Everyone is caught up in violent conflict over the pursuit of ultimate power and control by those nations who resent the concept of true freedom.

Mankind seems incapable, or unwilling, to learn from the countless pages of history that show that failure to share life on this planet through seeking to dominate and control people has left a trail of devastation, with deep wounds yet to heal. There have been atrocious acts in various regions, with millions of victims over the centuries. And yet, even in the year 2016, the world is fully aware that powerful nations in possession of nuclear weapons could potentially cause history to repeat itself unless a crucial lesson has been learnt from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When President Barack Obama recently visited the site where the first atomic bomb dropped from an American bomber, which claimed thousands of lives and left countless thousands wounded, it was a significant moment in history. It took more than 70 years for such a visit to take place, and obviously emotions were so deep that trying to find appropriate words for the occasion was a challenge for both President Obama and Japanese officials.

For a brief moment, the history clock seemed to pause, as President Obama embraced a tearful survivor of that blast, not far from the actual spot where the bomb exploded, changing warfare for ever. For many in Japan, America's gesture was long overdue, and while many wounds are yet to heal, there was a renewed cry for leading nations to make greater efforts to eradicate all nuclear weapons. President Harry S. Truman, had the awesome responsibility of making the decision to use the atomic bomb to end a horrible war; and, in his view, hopefully save lives. Perhaps some felt the devastation would deter nations from engaging in military hostilities with similar weapons.

However, the grim reality is that nations hostile to much of the free world have shown no indication of shedding their nuclear arsenals and some have shown blatant disregard for any suggestion to eliminate their stockpile of missiles that are capable of carrying atomic warheads. In a sense, the fate of much of the world could depend on whether the uneasy peace at present is breached by a miscalculation or a deliberate act of aggression.

Many of us still vividly recall back in the 1960s, when US President John F. Kennedy stunned the world with an announcement of the highest urgency, over the Soviet Union's attempt to ship missile parts to Cuba, which would have put America in the crosshairs of a possible nuclear attack. President Kennedy made it clear that if the Soviets insisted, the consequences would be significant. Everyone knew what that meant.

Although it was business as usual here in Bermuda, with even the visit of a cricket team from England that included the noted fast bowler Fred Trueman, there was a sombre mood throughout much of the island, as most Bermudians were pondering our future if things went terribly wrong. Fate intervened, and there was a global sigh of relief when the ships carrying parts for missiles were ordered to return to port.

For the people of Japan, atomic warfare had become reality, as two major cities were obliterated, and it would take decades before America and Japan would reach the high ground as allies, accepting that dark page of the history, despite the emotional and physical pain that still lingers with victims and their families.

But the pages of history need turning, to write new chapters of understanding and co-operation, in seeking better and stronger international relationships for future generations. One can only hope that the reminders of the horror that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be vital in helping to keep history from repeating itself.

Historic gesture: Barack Obama greets Shigeaki Mori, an atomic bomb survivor, and Sunao Tsuboi, chairman of Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organisations (Photograph by Shuji Kajiyama/AP)

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Published June 02, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 02, 2016 at 8:52 am)

We must continue to hope history will not repeat itself

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