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Film Captures Hope, Peace in Drawings by Hiroshima Children

  • Deborah Block

The legacy of the atomic bomb blast that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, 71 years ago, can be seen in the city's Peace Memorial Park and in a documentary about a group of children who survived the attack.

The story begins at All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, two years after the war. As part of their postwar humanitarian efforts, congregants sent badly needed school supplies to students in Hiroshima. Although their concrete school building had survived, the wooden interior, and everything in it, was destroyed. These students survived the bomb blast because they had been evacuated from the city.

The children sent back thank-you notes in the form of pictures. Their teacher had asked them to create happy images, so they drew remarkable pictures illustrating the concepts of hope and peace. The drawings were stored in the church basement, largely forgotten.

A parishioner came across the box of drawings in 1995. Church members restored the pictures and in 2010 took them to Japan to be displayed at the school, and to reunite the surviving artists for the first time with the drawings they had created as children.

Shizumi Shigeto Manale, an American born in Hiroshima, came up with the idea for a documentary. Called "Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard," it offers a look at the power of compassion and acts of kindness.

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