Do you remember your childhood? Think back your first memory as a child. Let me share with you my first childhood memory.
It was 1949 and I was two years old. I heard someone screaming. I went to the bathroom and opened the door. A woman was on the bathtub, crying for help. There was blood on the floor around her, and I saw something like a baby at her feet covered with blood. I ran away.
My next first memory is many hospital visits and surgeries, being paralyzed and in iron lung. Then, starting school with crutches and braces, and with sores all over my body, my teeth rotting out. My hair fell out twice. Waiting for the births of caws and sheep, praying that they would not be deformed. The animals born on the farm were so deformed -- cows with two heads, 6 or 7 feet, some without eyeballs and so on.
Riding the school bus for two hours on the way back home, wind blew so hard with thick white dust. Sometimes, our bus had to stop to wait until the wind died down. The bus driver told us to cover our mouth with wet towel so that we could breathe.
Many singing birds were dead and hanging upside down on a telephone wire. Not only little birds, but eagles, hawks were dying, too. I saw coyotes, dogs and other wild animals with their hair falling out. Jackrabbits had big water blister on their stomach and dead, bleeding from their nose and rectum.
My other first memories was the people who came to our farm. They wore beards and thick glasses. They wanted the feet and heads of dead ducks and geese we had hunted. They wanted milk from the cows and wanted water from our wells. Sometimes they came in suits looking like a spacemen. They took samples of our garden vegetables -- cucumbers, potatoes, carrots. They said, "We are from the government and we are here to protect you".
Government people came to our school and had us drink thick white liquid looking like milkshake, but it was not sweet. From the first to fifth grade, they very frequently came to our school and checked us with whole body counter, after we drank the white liquid. They told us to write down everything we ate for breakfast and give it to our teacher.
These were some of my childhood memories. Are yours like mine? Probably not.
In 1986, our government admitted that they deliberately released massive amount of radiation into the air, water and our food, and made a conscious decision to keep it secret from all of us. The largest deliberate release was done in 1949. This was an experiment, called "Green Run". It was around at the same time the woman in the bathroom, who was a nurse in our family, lost her baby.
The government people always treated us different. Hanford people did not want us to play with their children. They were rich and clean kids, while we were poor, dirty and stinky. They didn't allow our milk or cheese to go Richland, the town where Hanford scientists and workers lived. They watched us, monitored us, and tested us. They even made tags for us kids with each of our names and ID numbers, saying that we were like soldiers ready to fight another war against Russia, just like we fought against Japanese. Every week, we had "duck and cover" exercise at school. As I grew older, I realized It was a bizarre idea that we would be safe by this "duck and cover".
At hospitals, they told me, "You are special". There were always two doctors for me, one of whom spoke German. I have gone through 5 major surgeries, including the one to fix my deformed legs, and the other to remove polyp inside my nose. Iodine 131 released from Hanford hurt the bodies of children. Already, 50 % of my classmates have died, while their parents are alive.
In 1946, the first baby my mother had was stillborn. The baby was deformed. I was her second child. All my grandparents died of cancer. My father died of liver cancer, my mother had cancer and both of my sisters had cancer.
Out of 100 calves born in a pasture in 1963, 60 were so grossly deformed. They couldn't walk, some with no legs or too many legs. The mother had to squat down on the calves to feed them milk. At night, coyotes came to our farm, chased and killed them to eat. Finally, we took a bunch of them on a truck to be cut up for veal.
Then in 1984, we found that all of the 27 households in the neighborhood had their family members suffer from various cancers, birth defects, thyroid problems and so on. The reality sunk in. Hanford really did poison us and released radiation. The fact was confirmed by the government documents declassified in 1986, in which the government admitted that they deliberately did it and hid the fact.
This simply means that the plutonium for Nagasaki A-bomb was made in Hanford, and in the process, Hanford made American Hibakusha just like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Around 1991, about 5000 downwinders filed a lawsuit against the contractors of Hanford, demanding compensation. We lost in the first court, and the case is now in the court of appeals.
We Hanford Hibakusha have had lot of difficulty in struggling for justice and compensation from the Government. They always denied our claims. We received many death threats -- anytime you question authority, this was the consequence you had to suffer. But I will continue to question. Until the Hibakusha achieve justice, I will remain killed.