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Ari Beser's journey to meet and document the lives of the atomic bomb survivors began as a quest to reconcile a very personal connection to the devastation. His grandfather was the only serviceman on both planes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Lt. Jacob Beser was an engineer whose job was to build and monitor the fuses on the bombs. He was the only person used on both flights.
Ari Beser's interest in Japan ignited with his family connection. A year-long project as a Fulbright fellow ended with a front-row seat to President Barack Obama's landmark visit to Hiroshima.
"It was history," Beser said.
The president's trip marked the first visit to Hiroshima or Nagasaki by a U.S. president since the 1945 bombings, which essentially ended World War II.
Beser says it's a visit survivors never expected to see.
"The words of the survivors who I talked to were so meaningful to me. They said they thought they would never live to see the day," said Beser.
Beser, who's been telling the stories of the bomb survivors for some time, says many survivors he spoke with were very receptive the president's visit and the speech he gave at the memorial to the more than 100,000 dead there.
Although President Obama's trip was criticized by some for a lack of an apology to the Japanese people, Beser says many survivors were not expecting one.
"The survivors don't want an apology. The survivors want a world without nuclear weapons and an assurance that what happened to them won't happen to anyone else," said Beser.
Beser is currently producing an online documentary on the stories of the survivors.
His book on his grandfather's story can be found online here: http://www.amazon.com/Nuclear-Family-Ari-Beser/dp/1511482664.