Sixty-nine years ago today, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and instantly killed tens of thousands of people. It was the first and second-to-last time a nuclear weapon was ever used in war.
Actor George Takei, who lost an aunt and grandmother to the American bomb, tells the sad story during a visit to the Japanese city in this Takei's Take video from August 3:
As one can imagine, the bomb fundamentally reshaped Hiroshima's culture. Since 1968, all Hiroshima mayors have written protest letters to countries that possess nuclear weapons.
Hiroshima's commitment to peace is so extensive, Takei explains, that the city is one of the few places outside the United States that celebrates Martin Luther King's birthday. "I marched with Dr. King," Takei says, "and his words resonate here: 'We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.'"
Hiroshima isn't Takei's only personal connection to World War 2. His family was also held at a US internment camp, alongside thousands of other Japanese Americans. Despite the harm the US inflicted on his family during the war, his love for America remains strong.
"I am dedicated to making my country an even better America, to making our government an even truer democracy," Takei said in a previous TED Talk. "And because of the heroes that I have and the struggles that we've gone through, I can stand before you as a gay Japanese American — but even more than that, I am a proud American."