It’s a story that seems ripe for a movie someday: the pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay that was made famous for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 becomes friends with one of the victims of the bombing. The correspondence between Paul Tibbets and Akihiro Takahashi over the years that started in 1980 was discovered by Takahashi’s wife, Fumie, last February. Tibbets passed in 2007 at 92 years of age while Takahashi perished in 2011 at the ripe age of 80.
The unlikely friendship between two people who were on the opposite sides of the war, and of the bombing, was well-known and well-documented. But the new documents revealed the extent of their correspondence. It even shows that Tibbets considered accepting an invitation by Takahashi, who was the head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, to visit Hiroshima. But two months after the invitation was issued, Tibbets replied that he seriously thought about it, but eventually came to the decision to turn it down.
The two met when Takahashi went to Washington in 1980 to talk about the bombing in an exhibition there. He met with Tibbet at a park for around 30 minutes, but they promised to write to each other. Thus began a touching correspondence wherein they talked about their respective efforts to make sure that the mistakes during that war will never be repeated again. “Let us continue our exchange for as long as we both are alive while overcoming hatred and suffering,” wrote Takahashi in one of his letters.
Even though Tibbet never touched on the actual dropping of the bomb, he was supportive of Takahashi’s efforts to promote peace and prayed that it would all come to fruition. The discovered letters were composed of Tibbet’s typewritten replies to Takahashi and the Japanese drafts of Takahashi’s letters to the American. The last draft was dated December 15, 2005 and Takahashi wrote, “The folly of nuclear weapons should never be repeated over any nation nor people regardless of where or who they may be.” The letters will be donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum this coming autumn.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]