Stories of Hope-Barbara Reynolds

1954-1958: Adventure and Awareness

The crew of the Phoenix

1954 marked a turning point in Barbara's life. Earle had always dreamed of sailing around the world, and in Hiroshima he commissioned a fifty-foot yacht the family named the Phoenix of Hiroshima. Earle completed his research, and starting on May 5, 1954, Barbara, Earle, Ted, Jessica, and three Japanese crew members spent the next six years of their lives sailing around the world. (Tim, the eldest Reynolds child, left for college.)

This journey brought Barbara and her family into contact with people of many countries
around the world. Interacting with these people exposed Barbara to new viewpoints.

The people of these foreign nations were much more critical of the United States' use of the bomb than the Americans with whom Barbara had previously interacted. While in America the bomb was generally viewed in the context of having spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Japanese, many nations visited by the Phoenix viewed the dropping of the bombs as inhumane and unnecessary.

The Reynolds Family studying the globe                                            Barbara and Jessica on the Phoenix

Adding to resentment of the United States was the illness and death brought to the crew of the Japanese fishing vessel the Lucky Dragon as a result of fallout from continued nuclear testing by the U.S. in the Pacific. With the Lucky Dragon incident and widespread fear of fallout, the dangers of nuclear testing had become a prominent issue worldwide.

Everywhere the Phoenix went, people were hungry for information about Hiroshima. They would ask the Japanese crew members what the bomb was really like, how the victims had suffered, and what life was like in the rebuilt Hiroshima. Barbara listened to their responses, and her empathy for the victims of the atomic bomb grew. It was this experience, hearing the firsthand stories of the Japanese and the feelings of nations across the world, that allowed Barbara to see the world from a point of view unshielded by her role as the "uninvolved housewife."

“We were not sailing to talk about Hiroshima. We thought we had left Hiroshima behind.”

-Barbara Reynolds,
The Phoenix and the Dove

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