Locals Donate Atomic Bomb-Damaged Vase To WWII Museum
I mentioned on-air Friday that I was going to the WWII Museum in New Orleans this past weekend, and a local woman called to tell me about an artifact her family donated that is currently on display.
After mentioning my planned trip to the museum, Dianne Conery called to tell me to be on the look-out for a vase that her father picked up in the rubble of Nagasaki.
She said that the vase was on display in the "Campaigns of Courage" wing of the WWII Museum, near the end of the "Pacific Theater: The Road to Tokyo" display.
I had to contain my anticipation through the display: I wanted so badly to skip over the rest of the items in the museum and head straight for the vase, as there is SO much to see, hear and read there.
I realized that I had more than 3 hours available in that wing of the museum, so I took my time and let my anticipation build. And then, at the end of the display, right where Dianne said it would be: the vase.
I know, it just looks like a dirty vase. But it becomes much more than "just a vase" once you hear the story behind where and how it was found.
If my memory from Friday's phone call is correct, Dianne told me that her father was the XO (military slang for "Executive Officer:) of the USS Tills, one of the first US Navy ships to get to Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. His name was Lieutenant E. L. Willey, and he found the vase on his first trip into the city.
The story on the placard reads, point-for-point, the story that Dianne relayed to me.
If you notice on the vase in the pictures posted, the right side of the vase looks "normal", whereas the left side looks dirty. Those dirt-looking marks are actually flash burns from the blast of the bomb that was dropped on the city.
It was really cool to hear the personal story, from an actual family member, behind one of the items on display.
Kudos to the family for donating the item to the museum as it is a beautiful piece that, to me, easily symbolizes WWII: the dirty, ugly reign of the Third Reich and the Imperial Army, and the beautiful side for the allies who bravely fought for world peace.