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Americans React To Obama's Speech In Hiroshima, Japan


Here in the U.S., we heard reaction to the president's speech. Stephanie Thomas was at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. She was visiting from New Orleans.

STEPHANIE THOMAS: I feel very sad about what happened. I mean, I feel like it could've been avoided.

CORNISH: She says her grandfather fought in World War II, but they've always struggled to talk about his experience in the war. She says she was glad that President Obama visited Hiroshima today.

THOMAS: I feel like that's good. It's a good thing for him to do to really acknowledge that, you know, it happened and, you know, something to just memorialize the people with and just know that, yeah, we messed up.


Mike Tebow was visiting the memorial from Kansas, and he says even though Obama did not explicitly apologize for the bombing of Hiroshima, he still didn't like the idea of the visit.

MIKE TEBOW: It was a war. We had to do what we had to do to win, and I don't believe the Americans should have to apologize for fighting World War II or what we had to do to win it.

MCEVERS: But Tebow did agree with the president's call for nuclear disarmament.

TEBOW: For us to get rid of 'em and nobody else, I'm not for that. But I am for the world being rid of nuclear weapons, absolutely.

CORNISH: At the Harry S. Truman Memorial Library in Independence, Mo., visitors reflected on that president's decision to use atomic weapons against Japan. Jay Gilbert was visiting from Crete, Neb. He says President Truman's decision was personal for him.

JAY GILBERT: My father was in the Navy during World War II, and he entered the Navy service in January of 1945 and so was sent out to the Pacific and had President Truman not authorized the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he probably would have been involved in the invasion of Japan. I think President Truman ended up making the right decision for the time. And it is great that another president has gone to that site to provide some sort of measure of reconciliation.

MCEVERS: Those are some of the voices we heard from today at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Library in Independence, Mo., and the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

CORNISH: They're reacting to President Obama's speech today in Hiroshima. Obama is the first sitting president to visit that city since the end of the war. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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