DeKALB – John Bradley was a professor at the University of Alabama when he realized some people are not aware of the atomic bombing at Hiroshima.
Bradley overheard a student in 1982 ask another professor what Hiroshima was, after reading the word in a poem. Although the bombing of Hiroshima happened in 1945, Bradley still believes most people are not aware of their history. He compiled an anthology of poems titled "Atomic Ghost: Poets Respond to the Nuclear Age" in 1994 to spread awareness of the bombings.
"I think there are many Americans who don't know what we did," said Bradley, of DeKalb. "I think Americans tend to forget history. Things like this are still going on; it's different, but we need to be aware."
Bradley was among 15 people who gathered Wednesday afternoon at the College Avenue bridge in DeKalb to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the United States' bombing of Hiroshima in Japan during World War II.
Members of the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice and community members shared poems, songs and prayers to remember the lives lost. They also mentioned the Nagasaki bombing, which occurred on Aug. 9, 1945, just three days after the Hiroshima bombing.
Between the two bombings, at least 200,000 lives were lost, although there is no exact count, according to atomicbombmuseum.org. On Aug. 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies.
Joe Gastiger, pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb, said he has been attending this event for at least a decade.
"It's important to remember how many innocent people were lost, during this and all other events," Gastiger said. "People had no idea this was going to happen."
Richard Amesquita, of DeKalb, shared an original poem with the group, which asked, "where are the atoms for peace?" He said he doesn't like the idea of war and the immoralities that come with it.
He hopes events like Wednesday's spread awareness to many generations. Bradley agreed.
"It's important to hold these so we don't do it again," Bradley said.