A witness to one of the world’s darkest days recounts his story of resilience, hope

Updated: Aug. 6, 2019 at 5:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawrence Fumio Miwa was born in Honolulu.

He was 5 when his family moved to Hiroshima and 14 on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945 ― when he witnessed one of the darkest days in mankind’s history.

"I saw two B-29s going to Hiroshima," he said.

Minutes later, an atomic bomb would level his city. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

Miwa was in middle school with classmates on a mountainside 25 miles from Hiroshima when he saw the atomic blast.

"We didn't know that that was the first atomic bomb," he said.

He remembers the blinding flash of yellow light and wondering if his family survived. Days later, he returned to the city and saw the devastation.

"On the ground there were only burnt lumbers and ashes. That's it," he said.

The bombing killed 70,000 people. Many more died from radiation sickness and cancer.

“Luckily enough our house was built on the steel structure,” Miwa said. “My father was in there and he escaped the direct radiations.”

His parents and sister were gone, but they left a message scrawled on the wall of a water tank.

"And it said, 'We escaped from the city safely,'" he said.

A few days later, he found his family.

"My mom came out and said, 'Oh, you're still alive! Welcome back,'" he said.

Before and after the bombing, Miwa wrote down his thoughts in a diary. Those writings became the centerpiece for a book about his family called “Tadaima! I am Home.”

Miwa would return to Honolulu and graduate from high school, then college, before finding success in business and banking, and raising a family.

He is now 88 years old.

On Tuesday, he recounted his survival story at the annual Hiroshima Commemoration and Peace Service before the ringing of the Peace Bell.

He told the crowd that the day the atomic bomb fell he thought “it was the end of the world.”

It made him stronger.

“That has been my philosophy of life, that you can always rise from the calamity or tragic events that I went through,” he said.

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