Japan is a beautiful country and we spent many hours exploring the local towns and villages. There were outdoor markets selling meats, vegetables and soba, the Japanese noodle soup. There were also stores that were indoors which sold a variety of things, such as art or antiques. Many Japanese were very poor following the war and placed valuable family objects up for sale, such as Samurai Swords. There were also artists who painted on silk and sold their work. Many Americans bought these objects which were much more valuable than the price asked.
One day my Mother and I went into an antique store. My Mother was looking at some items that were for sale when a boy entered who was approximately my age. The boy was with at least one adult, but I never noticed the adult. I stared at the boy. I could not believe my eyes, I had never seen anything like this before. The boy was scarred everywhere visible that was not covered by his clothing. I had never seen anyone quite so horrific appearing. The boy walked quietly, with his head down. He never spoke or looked up. My Mother finished her shopping and we left the store.
As soon as we left the store I asked my Mother why the boy was so disfigured. She explained that he had been effected by the bomb that we Americans had dropped on Hiroshima. I was stunned. I had heard talk of "the bomb" but I never had thought about how it had effected people.
I never saw the boy again, never knew his name or his story. I do know, that little boy changed my life and my attitude about disability forever. And I learned what war does to humanity.