Hiroshima survivor honored by alma mater Lynchburg College

Setsuko Thurlow received a Noble Peace Prize

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - At 13 years old, Setsuko Thurlow experienced something that would change her outlook on life. In 1945, during WWII, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima.

"I saw a white flash in the window. I didn't know what it was. It just happened and then my body was flying up in the air," Thurlow said.

Thurlow survived.

"Thirty other girls who were with me in the same room were all burned to death alive," Thurlow said.

At 22 years old, she moved to the Hill City and graduated from Lynchburg College in 1955. She wasn't shy about expressing her disapproval of nuclear weapons.

"Some people were upset. They started writing hate letters (like) 'how dare you?' 'who was given a scholarship?' ' Remember Pearl Harbor?' and 'Go back where you came from,'" Thurlow said.

But she says, people eventually learned to be open about her story. Her stance on the topic has landed her a Noble Peace Prize. Nearly 73 years since the attack, she's glad to see conversations on nuclear weapons--especially on the Korean Peninsula-- are moving towards a more peaceful outcome.

"I am glad (there is) some potential for success. Not only North and South (Korea), and Japan and other nations involved (in the) negotiations will be very happy," Thurlow said.

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