Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, 89, is the last surviving member of the crew of the Enola Gay, the U.S. bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. Over 70,000 men, women and children died instantly, and another 130,000 died from the aftereffects of this small prototype weapon of mass destruction.
The Mirror.co.uk posted an interview with Dutch Aug. 1. He said, "I have never apologized for what we did to Hiroshima and I never will. Our mission was to end the Second World War, simple as that.
"If we had not dropped that bomb, there is no way the Japanese would have surrendered. We would have had to invade the country and the death toll would have been truly unimaginable."
Such is the logic of war. In a life-or-death struggle, even unimaginable death tolls become a pragmatic calculation.
"Would I do it all again? Yes, given exactly the same circumstances, I would," he said.
Still, Dutch and his crewmates were shocked by what they experienced, and stunned that on their six-hour return flight there was no report of Japanese surrender. That didn't come till after Nagasaki was also vaporized Aug. 9.
The survivors' view
After witnessing the total destruction of 5 square miles of Hiroshima and seeing both the sudden and the slow and agonizing deaths of their friends and family members, the Japanese survivors have a vastly different viewpoint. The hibakusha, as atomic bomb survivors are known, place utmost importance on making sure such destruction never happens again.
Japan Times reported that 95 percent of the survivors surveyed "expressed concerns over whether their experiences can be passed on to future generations." Many stressed the importance of promoting peace education and creating records of their testimony.
On Sunday, Aug. 1, atomic bomb survivors joined with schoolchildren and others to surround the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima with banners tied together with ribbon calling for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
"'We hope that children will take over the wish for peace,' said Miyoko Watanabe, 80, representing the organizing group of Hiroshima bomb survivors."
Peace declarations past and future
Last year Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba's "Peace Declaration" began:
"That weapon of human extinction, the atomic bomb, was dropped on the people of Hiroshima sixty-four years ago. Yet the hibakusha's suffering, a hell no words can convey, continues. Radiation absorbed 64 years earlier continues to eat at their bodies, and memories of 64 years ago flash back as if they had happened yesterday."
Mayor Akiba went on to call for the world "to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020 to actualize the fervent desire of hibakusha that 'No one else should ever suffer as we did.'"
But the history of humanity's wars does little to encourage this hope. In future life-or-death struggles, what would prevent nations or even terrorist cells from using every weapon at their disposal? As nuclear weapons proliferate, our world is growing more and more dangerous.
Truthfully, the only way lasting peace can come is through a miracle. Thankfully, the Bible tells us that miracle is on its way.
Jesus Christ vividly portrayed our end-time problem—and the solution. "For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones" (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
Please take a moment today to pray for the time of peace Jesus Christ promised will come after His return (see "War and Peace" from "The Wonderful World Beyond Today" series). His chosen ones know that Christ's return is the only way that disarmament will truly happen. Please pray "Your kingdom come"—soon!