The Worst Anniversary: 70 Years Since Hiroshima

August 6, 1945: America dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. It killed at least 20,000 Japanese soldiers, as well as between 70,000 and 146,000 Japanese civilians – not to mention those whose lives were completely altered by the after-effects.

That was now 70 years ago today.

Most of us weren’t alive then, much less able to remember the event. And really, for Americans like me, it was probably little more than a front-page headline on the daily paper. Somewhere along the line, I “learned” that the act was in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened December 7, 1941 and caused 2400+ casualties, 1100+ injuries and lots of destroyed aircraft, battleships, subs and the like. Did you receive the same reasoning?

We as Americans usually buy into the propaganda of justification for the action – as well as the atomic bombing of Nagasaki three days later, which killed another 50,000 or so people. But if you think about it, it’s the grossest overreaction of all time. Ten times more soldiers were killed at Hiroshima. Over one-thousand times more civilians were killed (70,000 by smallest estimate compared to 68 killed at Pearl Harbor). And it happened three years and eight months later. And it remains the only time nuclear weapons have been used for warfare.

The United States is the only country to ever use nuclear weapons for warfare.

It’s hard to imagine that many people dying in war – that many innocent civilians. In the 9/11 attacks, less than 3000 Americans died. Remember that? I sure do; it was catastrophic and ingrained in my head, and I was sitting in the office of a video-game magazine in Minneapolis at the time. It’s hard to imagine the most devastating man-made event in history happening when our grandparents were alive.

I’m heartbroken just thinking about it, to be honest. Those who know me are well aware of my love of Japanese culture. Every time I watch NHK or listen to a J-pop song lately, I want to cry. Those are the same types of people who were wiped out in the bombings. They may know someone affected; they may know a survivor. Japanese people don’t whine or complain; they are very frank and honest about their faults and their past. They took that slaughter and were made humble. They cleared the wreckage, buried the dead, and got to work repairing what none of us could even imagine enduring. It bounced back and is now once again a great nation.

How much of a grudge would we hold against a nation if they did that to us? Heck, some of us pin the blame for a few domestic terrorist actions on an entire religion which numbers 1.57 billion people! But I digress. This wasn’t started as a “fucking ‘Merica” post. More a “fuck war” post if anything. And a “Holy crap I’m sorry we did that to you, Japan.”

I am truly sorry this happened. I don’t know how anyone could not be. I don’t know how anyone could not abhor war after knowing about this event. Please take a few moments to think about this terrible event yourself today, and let us all pray nothing like it ever happens again.

Some other related facts:

  • Nazi Germany had already surrendered three months prior to the bombing.
  • Firebombs were rampart prior to the atomic bombings. For example, a one-day campaign in March killed approximately 100,000 people in Tokyo and leveled 16 square miles of the city.
  • The United States and its allies had demanded Japan surrender unconditionally less than 2 weeks prior, on July 26, 1945.
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen among a list of nominees that were significant areas not targeted in previous raids.
  • Kyoto was almost a target for an atomic bomb, but Secretary of War Henry Stimson was fond of it after honeymooning there years before and lobbied President Truman and others to strike it from the list.
  • The Hiroshima bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, was aboard a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay. It contained 140 pounds of uranium-235 and was dropped at approximately 8:09am Japan time, from 31,000 feet. It took 44 seconds to make contact.
  • Little Boy missed its target bridge by 800 feet and struck a surgical clinic instead. Only 1.7% of its material fissioned – meaning it was considered very inefficient.
  • Japan announced its surrender on August 15 and signed the instrument of surrender on September 2.

For more on the bombing, go here.

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