Shigeko Sasamori was 13 years old when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. She was two miles away from the hypocenter, and will tell her story Friday at Penn State.
“Hiroshima Story: Living After the A-Bomb” is the first event of its type to be hosted by the Penn State Department of Asian Studies.
“(Sasamori) is going to talk about her experience on that day, what happened and then what happened after that day,” event organizer and Penn State faculty member Erika Hirano said. “Ten years after, she came to the States (for) reconstructive surgery and ... then finished her education here in this country and became a nurse for more than 30 years. Now, she’s decided to spread her message of Hiroshima.”
Sasamori will be accompanied by Kazumi Hatasa, a professor at the Purdue University School of Language and Cultures and former director of the School of Japanese at Middlebury College. Hatasa frequently accompanies Sasamori to her speaking engagements around the country, helping guide the conversation around her narrative and the Q&A session that takes place at the end of the event.
“I’ve had several opportunities to listen to Shigeko’s lectures recounting her life as a survivor. (It) always moved me and I learn something new each time I listen to her stories,” Hirano said. “Shigeko is one of the (most) cheerful, loving, amazing people that I know. There are not many people who actually experienced this bombing and talk about it.”
With the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima nearly 74 years ago, and Sasamori recently celebrating her 87th birthday, Hirano said more people need to take the opportunity to listen to the firsthand experiences of World War II survivors while we still can.
At similar events, Sasamori and Hatasa have drawn large crowds and Hirano is hoping for around 300 attendees at the event, which follows a Sasamori presentation at Penn State Harrisburg the day before. The 6:30 p.m. presentation is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.
The presentation portion of the event is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by the Q&A session. It takes place in Penn State’s Forum Building, Room 105.