Many survivors tell a similar story. As the sun rose over Hiroshima on a clear summer morning on Aug. 6, 1945, air-raid sirens blared, rousing a sleeping city awake. Several minutes later, an all-clear was issued, the sirens stopped, and the estimated 350,000 residents of the city began their daily routines on a hot summer day.
An hour later, 31,000 feet over the city, a B-29 Superfortress silently began a bombing run that would change history. At 8:15 a.m., in a flash of light, about 70,000 people were instantly killed, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Tens of thousands more would die by the end of the year due to the effects of radioactive fallout. Except for a few buildings, the city was leveled, and the resulting fires completed the devastation.
Less than three-quarters of a mile from ground zero in the shadow of Hiroshima Castle, a camphor tree was damaged and bent by the blast but remained standing. It was one of 170 hibakujumoku, a Japanese term meaning atomic bombed tree, that survived the cataclysm. They would become symbols of peace and hope.
Three seedlings from this tree were planted at 8 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, in the Fresno State Peace Garden to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, remember those who died and to hope that nuclear weapons are never used again.
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