Column: The Kindness of Floyd Schmoe

by Yumi Kanazaki, Editorial Writer

Is this a carpenter with sweat on his brow seen in a photo taken in Hiroshima seven years after the atomic bombing? No, a man named Floyd Schmoe sports a smile on his tanned face in the black-and-white picture. Three years before the photo was taken, he had begun building so-called “Hiroshima Houses” for A-bomb survivors.

To fund this effort, Mr. Schmoe, an American, toured the United States to raise contributions then subsequently constructed 21 such buildings in Hiroshima. He invited young people to join him and they worked together, hauling the building materials. For Mr. Schmoe, the houses were a symbol of the love people held in their hearts. He felt deep shame and regret over the atrocity of the A-bomb attack his country had carried out.

As the city was rehabilitated, the Hiroshima Houses eventually aged and disappeared. But the last building left standing will now live a long life. This building, once used as a meeting hall by local residents, has been renovated and renamed “Schmoe House,”serving as an exhibition facility affiliated with Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Schmoe House conveys information on foreign nationals who lent their support to the city’s reconstruction after it was reduced to ashes. Among the items on display is a photo of Mr. Schmoe with a smile on his face and a hammer in his hand. We’ve forgotten, haven’t we, all the warm support that was given by people throughout the world in the aftermath of the atomic bombing?

Mr. Schmoe was a tireless worker. Though the sounds of his hammer can no longer be heard, let’s turn our ears to his wish for no more wars to be waged. This is how we might repay the kindness shown by Mr. Schmoe and many others.

(Originally published on November 2, 2012)