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2020 Election, Choosing Life with Author Leslie Sussan

Cynthia Brian continues Wednesdays with Writers and Entertainers as a way to give authors, actors, artists, and creatives a platform to promote their work during the pandemic when their events have been canceled. This outreach is part of Operation Disaster Relief through Be the Star You Are! t01 c3 charity. Make a donation at

A conversation about the election with results still to be determined . Who will be in the White House in January? Who will occupy the House and the Senate. No matter who you voted for, voting is our right and obligation as part of democracy of America. Biden is calling for patience in counting the ballots and saying he’ll be a President for all Americans. Trump is already screaming fraud and threatening to take a lawsuit to the Supreme Court. There are sore loser laws. States have protocols in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits for recounts. Candidates do NOT get to say who won. The voters do. Which man is more Presidential?

In 1987, honoring her father’s wishes, author Leslie Sussan, with her young daughter, followed his footsteps to Japan to meet the survivors he had filmed more than 40 years before. Her book, Choosing Life shares a personal journey to answer a simple, yet not easy life question: what gives some people the strength to choose life when faced with unspeakable horrors? A Hollywood cinematographer before the war, the moment 2nd Lt. Herbert Sussan set foot on Nagasaki soil four months after the bombing; he knew he had to tell the real story hidden within the story the Army wanted him to tell. So horrific was the human aftermath, the Japanese have a word especially for the survivors, hibakusha. Spending the remainder of his life arguing unsuccessfully for the footage’s release, Sussan’s last wish was that his ashes be scattered at ground zero in Hiroshima. The first-person accounts of the filmmaker and the hibakusha whom he filmed embody compassion and courage and send a message calling for peace across nations and generations.

Bio: Leslie Sussan

This is a story I was born to tell but it took most of my life to do it. Like my father, I was born and raised in New York City. During college in the early 1970s, I was active in the peace and civil rights movements and was one of the founders of the Gray Panthers. My father, Herbert Sussan, filmed the aftermath of the atomic bombings, only to see the footage buried as top secret for decades. He believed that the American people could only be mobilized to stop nuclear weapons if they fully understood their human meaning in living color. But the years embittered him. As a young person, I saw him as a hypocrite sitting on the wrong side of the generation gap because he did not embrace my activism and oppose the Vietnam War or support my interracial marriage.

After he became ill with a cancer he attributed to his time in the atom-bombed cities, he began speaking out for the first time. His last wish was that his ashes be scattered at Ground Zero in Hiroshima. I went to Japan in 1987 with my little girl (then 4). I found myself, like my father, deeply drawn to Hiroshima and spent a year there coming to know survivors who remembered being filmed by my father more than 40 years earlier. And, to my surprise, I also came to know who my father was before he was haunted by the images he saw and could not share. It took me thirty more years to find the right way to share the first-person accounts that my father and the hikakusha (the Japanese word for the survivors) had entrusted to me, but now they are available at last for readers as the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the bombings -- and again faces hard choices about nuclear weapons.

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