Friday, August 06, 2010

It was 65 years ago today...

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

Sixty-five years ago today, August 6, 1945, a U.S. bomber crew dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Three days later they bombed Nagasaki, Japan. Shortly after that the Japanese surrended to the United States and the war was over. It was the biggest, most devastating war in the history of the world. Millions of people died, many of them innocent. The atom bombs made the devastation much more efficient.

Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

It's been talked about, debated and discussed for many years, but one thing is clear: the United States is the only country to ever use nuclear devices on a civilian population in time of war.

Scientists studied the bombings of the Japanese cities for years. It was clear from the first that if the explosion didn't kill you, the radioactivity would. Despite that the U.S. conducted testing of nuclear devices above ground for years until forced to stop. They tested the bombs in Nevada, and waited to set them off when the prevailing winds blew over Utah, which had a "low yield segment of the population." Over the decades people who were in the path of the nuclear testing have come to be known as Downwinders, with high rates of cancer and other medical problems out of proportion to their population.

Since the very earliest part of the atomic age, scientists, the military, the U.S. government, have known the effects of nuclear bombs. To teach us schoolchildren to "duck and cover" during a nuclear attack was a total whitewash. They knew that anyone within a certain radius would be vaporized. An argument for using the first nuclear weapons was that they would end the war. They did. But they also dropped bombs on an innocent population at home, and while I can accept the reasoning of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, there's no excuse for what happened to U.S. civilians after the war was over.

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