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War has always been a pestilence of human relations, but by the middle of the twentieth century war was no longer a threat to nations, but rather to the planet.  The entire concept of total war revealed just how little we understood what 'total' really meant.

"Tonight the report that I read" is the official report written in 1946 and not released to the public until fifty years later.

"Told of midnight funeral pyres" is the ghastly continuation of the morning's fire in the sky.

"In valleys that swallowed the dead" is the location of these rustic crematoriums.  The nuance here is the valleys of Hamongog (Ezekiel 39:11) and Armagedon (Revelation 16:16, 19:1-21).

"Torched around Misasa Bridge" links to "pyre" in a prior line, as the deed that created the dead needing to be cleansed.  The nuance here is the light of burning objects in the city relating to the torches carried by the crowd that came to Gethsemane to take Jesus, the idea of the relationship being that in our arrogance 'we know not what we do'.

"I read about intentions" is that the targets were chosen with the deliberate intent to kill people, to test out the effects of this new weapon on human beings as well as buildings.  This aspect of the report is as chilling a document as I have ever read in it's calm description of such human suffering.

"And blast effect dimensions" was how the report went on at length about how the blast smashed things, and at what distances.

"Held in check by the ring of a ridge" refers to the report's describing how the blast effects were constrained, in particular in Nagasaki, by the city's hills.  This is also a reference to The Lord of The Rings, and it's devastated land of Mordor.  The "held in check" aspect here is the 'shadow' effect, where objects, including people, exposed to the blast shaded other things from being flash burned.

"And the scorched on Misasa Bridge" refers in part to the priests' first encounter with the bridge after the blast, where they meet a group of horribly burned soldiers; and horses.

"Once crossed there's no turning back" is a play on double cross and the priests crossing the bridge several times in the course of finding their companions.  Once the priest crossed that bridge, and saw what lay beyond, in some measure that bridge was no longer there for him to cross back into that vanquished world where nuclear flash burns were unimaginable.  Once the U.S. showed the whole world this new war toy, nothing could slay this dragon that now haunts the dreams of humanity.  The design and materials of the Little Boy bomb, inefficient and crude to weapons engineers, is hardly beyond the ability of even a small country to reproduce.  No treaty will put the genie of this knowlege back into the bottle.

"Witness to the first attack//Of the new age" is to use the bridge as a witness to a change in history.  How typical of humanity that it is a hideous predatory change.

"Burned like letters on the page" uses a reference to a page some distance from the blast, where only the black ink was burned out by the flash, to represent the bridge, which was not consumed but was nevertheless changed forever.

"I think the universe time traveled" is that the world at the start of the war did not have ballistic missles or jet planes or systematic genocide or any of a hundred other things; foremost of course nuclear weapons.  What other brief period in history saw such change?

"In three mad years and eight sad months" is from December 7, 1941 to August 6 and 9, 1945.

"As fearless armies just unraveled" is that a nation that showed great courage even after the tide of the war turned against them could not stand before this new horror.  Courage was not an issue.

"Before a few glass wounded monks" refers to the injuries suffered by the priests, and as a play on stained glass and on observation, for they were witness to the human cost of this weapon.

"The Arizona sailors who drown below" refers to the men who died on the Arizona, a battleship sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor which began the war.

"Died like men a thousand years ago" is that sailors have always been in danger of drowning, and that in this regard their death was not unusual in the history of the sea.

"But soon that host of planes shrank down to one" is that the mass of planes used by Japan to attack Pearl Harbor were supplanted by a single B-29, nicknamed Enola Gay.

"And death took on the face of an angry sun" is that the death which came for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not like any death that had previously befallen human beings.

"What have we done" is a quote from Captain Robert Lewis when he looked down and saw the mushroom cloud rising toward his plane over Hiroshima.

"Who could imagine the change" that was to come on the world in such a short span of time?

"Kates gave way to flash range" is that the host of Kate torpedo bombers, Val dive bombers, and Zeke (Zero) fighters that attacked Pearl Harbor changed into a new form of warfare, with new terms, clinical terms quite removed from the colorful nicknames people gave planes.

The Val's real name was Aichia D3A1 Type 99 Model 11, the Kate's was Nakajima B5N2 Model 12, and the Zero's was Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 11. Though a torpedo bomber, the Kates were primarily used during the attack to drop bombs.

Interestingly, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the first air wave at Pearl Harbor, and instructed his radio operator to send back Tora Tora Tora, became a Christian and missionary after the war, and lived until 1976.

"Bookend unheeded alarms" is that Pearl Harbor had been warned but did not heed, and Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) had an air raid alert that was canceled when it was seen to be just a couple of planes.

"Sparked such intended harm" is that both Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima/Nagasaki were deliberate acts.  It also ties to the "I read about intentions" line earlier in the song.

"Early on two sleepy mornings" is that Pearl Harbor came at 7:55, Hiroshima at 8:15.

"Hell shattered lives without warning" is that both events were 'surprise' attacks; Pearl Harbor because no war had been declared, and Hiroshima because Japan did not know such a weapon existed.

"Eons of sacrilege" is the long history of human warfare.

"Led to Misasa Bridge" is that the long history of human warfare led us to nuclear weapons, and we rushed right across that bridge.


Here the war predator expands to threaten the entire human race.  The death tolls spoken of in Revelation were once unimaginable.  Once we crossed this bridge, the means were clear.


Humanity has passed into a new age, but it is not all microwave ovens and antibiotics.    Wisdom cannot help but see the atomic bombing as a clear symbol of the failure of materialism.  The person of wisdom knows from events such as this that technology will not solve the problem of the human heart, and so seeks elsewhere; for a solution must be found.  As Frankl said, "Since Hiroshima we know what is at stake."

 
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