Shigeaki Mori was 8 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
As an amateur historian, Mr. Mori spent his weekends researching the aftermath of the bombing, double-checking official histories with contemporary newspaper reports and his own interviews with fellow survivors.
Through his research, Mr. Mori discovered the fate of twelve American Airmen who died in the Hiroshima bombing, including Normand Brissette of Lowell. He spent 40 years researching the American POWs, searching through thousands of boxes of records and placing hundreds of long distance phone calls in hopes of contacting next of kin in America. Mr. Mori sought to not only share their story but also have them recognized as victims by the Hiroshima Peace Museum. In 1999, Mori finally got his wish for a memorial to the US aircrew with the unveiling of a brass plaque on the site of the headquarters where they had been held at the time of the bombing.
On May 28th, 2018, the City of Lowell offered its thanks to Shigeaki Mori as part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Centralville Veteran’s Memorial Park. Mori was presented with an American flag, citations from the Lowell City Council, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and a Key to the City from Mayor William Samaras.
The ceremony also included the unveiling of a memorial stone dedicated to the 12 American POWs who died in the bombing, which joins nine existing monuments in the park, which collectively display the names of over three thousand service members, along with 10 benches donated by the families of veterans.
“With this memorial stone, we are honoring these twelve brave American servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice: They will never be forgotten,” said Bernard Lemoine, President of the Centraville Memorial Park Committee, who worked with Memorial Park Program Director Joseph Dussault to oversee the new monument. “This memorial will be the only one of its kind honoring these 12 American servicemen in the state of Massachusetts.”
The Memorial Day event included visitors from near and far–including Japanese Consul-General Rokuichiro Michi, State Representative Tom Golden, and many members of the Lowell City Council.
Mori’s story has received well-deserved international attention. When President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima in May 2016, he embraced Mr. Mori with a hug and thanked him for his efforts towards peace.
The 2016 documentary film, Paper Lanterns was produced by local filmmaker Barry Frechette and follows the families of POWs, Lowell’s Normand Brissette and Ralph Neal of Harrodsburg, Kentucky as Mori met with the relatives and shared the details of their last days. Several film and news crews are following Mori on this visit to the United States which will also include trips to Boston, San Francisco, and the United Nations.
Here are a few more images from the morning’s ceremony.