Barack Obama lays wreath at Hiroshima Memorial, says death fell from the sky and the world changed
“In the image of a mushroom cloud that rose in these skies we are starkly reminded of humanity's core contradictions."
Hiroshima, Japan: Barack Obama created history, Friday, by becoming the first US President to visit Hiroshima and lay a wreath at the cenotaph to victims of the 1945 nuclear strike.
“On a bright cloudless morning, death feel from the sky and world was changed,” he said, adding that the bombing demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.
“In the image of a mushroom cloud that rose in these skies we are starkly reminded of humanity's core contradictions,” a sombre looking Obama said.
“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder on a terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead...their soul speaks to us, asks us to take stock of who we are and what we might become,” Obama said as Japanese PM Shinzo Abe stood by his side.
The trip comes more than seven decades after the world was first shown the potential keys to its own destruction when an American plane, the Enola Gay, dropped its payload, dubbed "Little Boy" over the western Japanese city.
The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people, some of whom died immediately in a ball of searing heat, while many succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses in the weeks, months and years afterwards.
The US dropped a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki three days later.
Coming in Obama's final year in office, the visit also marks seven years since he used his trademark soaring rhetoric to call for the elimination of atomic arms in a landmark speech in Prague that helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Some quarters of Japanese society, however, had called for an apology by the US President. Obama had ruled this out and insisted he will not revisit the decisions of his predecessor Harry Truman at the close of World War II.
While some in Japan feel the attack was an abomination because it targeted civilians, many Americans say it hastened the end of a brutal and bloody conflict, and ultimately saved lives.
With agency inputs