Today in History

“On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

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6 Responses to Today in History

  1. We were assigned John Hershey’s Hiroshima in my HS history class. It hit VERY close to home, considering I grew up in a city that still tested it’s air raid sirens every Saturday at 1PM until the 70’s.

    Don’t know why, we had a major SAC air base, a big defense industry footprint and 14 Titan Missile silos ringing it: https://tucson.com/news/retrotucson/photos-titan-ii-nuclear-missiles-ringed-tucson-during-the-cold/collection_c2d96e5e-0d50-5a1a-ac93-e3a5edbb2601.html#5 so it’s not like any warning would have helped. We were most definitely a first strike target.

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    • MDavis says:

      I remember arguing with a cousin about which of our cities would be most likely hit with the bomb, should one be dropped. Those were interesting times.

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    • Mary Ellen Sandahl says:

      I read it on my own one afternoon – it’s short – when I was about 16, in the depth of the Cold War period as the 1960 Presidential campaign wa heating up, Growing up in the NYC area was comparable to your description. IIRC the routine “civil defense” school drills, with everyone crouching in the basement facing the walls, started when I was in 4th or 5th grade. The air raid sirens, with their code of Take Cover and All Clear blasts, and the radio civil defense tests were a regular part of life. The constant awareness of possible nuclear attack was.. well, constant. But nothing brings it into your face quite like that book, with its eye-witness survivor testimony.

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  2. Bruce388 says:

    “We dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and then, three days later, we dropped one on Nagasaki, because what the hell, we had another bomb.” — Dave Barry

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    • MDavis says:

      It’s the Niven theory, from Mote in God’s Eye.
      Find just one race (human) everywhere you look and you might be the only one (or it might be the only bomb).
      But with two, there could be an endless number.
      It might have been meant to discourage Russia from moving on us. By this time I think they knew Stalin was nuts.

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  3. Dennis Cole says:

    A few of Truman’s generals tried to discourage him from dropping “the Big One,” pointing out that Japan was clearly reeling, and just swatting at us aimlessly and harmlessly, like a punch-drunk fighter who’s only being held up by the ropes. They predicted a surrender within a month, but he was having none of it. He was determined to do more than field-testing, he wanted to see how this powerful new weapon performed “on the battlefield,” as well as showing off to the world our new capability.

    He got his wish. “Why have nuclear weapons if you’re not gonna use ’em?” Sound familiar? And Hiroshima had no real “value” as a target, it didn’t produce any weapons, and didn’t do all that much to help the war effort besides providing bodies for the Imperial Army. So it was likely chosen for just that reason – more than a “poke in the eye,” it was MEANT to horrify our other enemies, by showing them we had little to no regard for “soft targets,” and demonstrating our willingness to slaughter civilian populations at will. The same went for Nagasaki, although it had war-machinery production capabilities, and it got our point across quite well – “We have these weapons, and are ready and willing to use them anytime, anywhere.”

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