By Allison Karman, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
Visiting world heritage sites that were created by our ancestors leaves us in awe over the human race’s ability to create these miraculous standings without convenience and assistance of modern day technology. These monuments have always been a part of human evolution whether it was one cultures aesthetics (the Acropolis, Athens, Greece), the start of a new way of government (Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA), or for its archeological purposes (Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia). But what happens when we give the prestige of a world heritage site to something that has been destroyed in an act of violence?
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is one of two world heritage sites, the other being Auschwitz, that is the result of human viciousness and destruction. On August 6th 1945, the United States dropped the first ever nuclear bomb on the town of Hiroshima. Everything within the limits of the city was destroyed, but miraculously the Genbaku Dome’s structure was still intact after only being 160 meters away from the explosion site.
After visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Hiroshima Japan, I couldn’t help but to wonder if the future held nothing but more opportunities for calamity to become protected. There was much debate on whether to keep the remaining structure or to tear it down for it would bring back too many harmful memories of that fatal day. Personally, I believe that the monument has the right to be a world heritage site. The bare bones of the building loom over its visitors as a reminder of what people have to capacity to do to our own kind. This monument isn’t glamorized or commercialized to tourists in the way where it loses its true meaning; to educate the public about what really happened that summer morning in the city.
But where is the line drawn? There is almost no doubt that the world is going to see more tragedy to this degree but should every bit of war, hate and violence of this magnitude be protected as a reminder? How many tragic monuments will be around when our children and our children’s children travel the world like we are doing right now? Well, right now the count is two and it can only go up from here.