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Recalling the horror

Ashlanders paused Monday morning in Lithia Park to commemorate the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. The somber ceremony coincided with one in Hiroshima, remembering the 80,000 people killed instantly in the blast and the tens of thousands more who were injured or died later from radiation.

A second commemoration will take place Thursday, the anniversary of the bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki, where 40,000 more people were instantly killed. Several events are planned in Ashland over the four days.

This year’s commemoration is focused on efforts to promote the U.N.-sponsored Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, opened for signing last year.

It has been 73 years since the only use of nuclear weapons in history. Surely we have progressed enough as human beings that we can agree to banish these most horrific of all weapons forever.

But of course it is not that simple. The United States has not signed the treaty, nor have any of the world’s other nuclear nations. Nor has Japan — although Hiroshima’s mayor urged that country’s government to do so in his speech Monday.

And yet, in those 73 years, no nation has used a nuclear weapon, even accidentally. That in itself is remarkable, but there is no guarantee that record will hold.

Meanwhile, the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are growing fewer, and soon will be gone. That’s why it is imperative that younger generations continue to keep alive the memory of those horrific attacks.