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For some context:
In 1948, Helen Keller was sent by General Douglas MacArthur as America’s first Goodwill Ambassador to Japan since the war ended. She visited both sites of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and was greeted by thousands of Japanese people.
They remembered her earlier tour of Japan in 1937, when among other things she introduced the Akita breed of dogs to America, and now she toured Japan to fundraise money for people blinded and disabled by the war and a-bombs.
As Goodwill Ambassador, she publicly praised and celebrated Hiroshima’s recovery as a city, saying in a public speech to the Japanese:
> Your fine qualities, which have saved you countless times in the past, have triumphed, and Hiroshima is once again prospering through your devotion and self-sacrifice. Hiroshima will rise again through individual freedom and responsibility for the happiness of others and through new meaning found when the principles and customs of democracy are adopted. Your tragedy will truly purify your souls through your public-mindedness and camaraderie.
But privately, in a letter to a friend, Keller lamented the tragedy and destruction of the city:
> We are still aching all over from that piteous experience — it exceeds in horror and anguish the accounts I have read. Polly and I went to Hiroshima with Takeo Iwahashi to give our usual appeal meeting, but no sooner had we arrived there than the bitter irony of it all gripped us overpoweringly, and it cost us a supreme effort to speak.
> As you know, the city was literally levelled by the atomic bomb, but, Nella, its desolation, irreplaceable loss and mourning can be realized only by those who are on the spot. Not one tall building is left, and what has been rebuilt is temporary and put up in haste. Instead of the fair, flourishing city we saw eleven years ago, there is only life struggling daily, hourly against a bare environment, unsoftened even by nature’s wizardry. How the people exist through summer heat and winter cold is a thought not to be borne.
> Jolting over what had once been paved streets, we visited the one grave — all ashes — where about 8:30, August 6th, 1945, ninety thousand men, women and children were instantly killed, and a hundred and fifty thousand were injured, and the rest of the population did not know at the moment what a disaster was upon them.
> They thought that the two planes — when they bombed, they always came in numbers — were reconnoitering planes; so they were not prepared for the flash of light that brought mass death. As a result of that inferno two hundred thousand persons are now dead, and the suffering caused by atomic burns and other wounds is incalculable.
> Polly saw burns of the face of the welfare officer — a shocking sight. He let me touch his face, and the rest is silence — the people struggle on and say nothing about their lifelong hurts.