The Luckiest Unlucky Man

Tsutomu Yamaguchi is dead at 93. Some might argue that it’s about damned time. It turns out that Yamaguchi is of pretty hardy stock. A Japanese businessman, he was on a trip on August 6, 1945 to the city of Hiroshima.

If that date rings a bell, perhaps it’s because it was my dad’s ninth birthday. Oh, and it’s also the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which rather impacted Mr. Yamaguchi’s day more than Dad’s. Yamaguchi suffered burns to his upper body, but was allowed to return to his hometown the following day. Lucky him. Except that he hailed from Nagasaki, where three days later a second atomic bomb was dropped. (and my father didn’t have another birthday until 1946.)

Yamaguchi held the distinction of being the only person certified to have survived both attacks. This either makes him the luckiest or the unluckiest man on Earth. Despite the myriad of radiation related health problems suffered by most other blast survivors, he lived a long and relatively healthy life. Perhaps radiation exposure works like multiplying negative numbers, the second one eliminates the effect of the first.

It does make you wonder though. If you were to encounter Yamaguchi or someone like him, do you stand as close as possible or run for the hills?

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