Today, August 6, is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, followed on August 9 by the bombing of Nagasaki, with the total loss of life estimated to be up to 250,000 human beings.
There had been firebombing of Dresden, Germany and Tokyo, Japan earlier, causing even more loss of life, but something about the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki stood out as the ultimate destructive symbol.
The Atomic Age had begun, and ever since, the world has had to be concerned about the dangers of a nuclear war. First was the danger of conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, most specifically in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, but generally a problem all along. Then the danger of nuclear proliferation with China, India, and Pakistan getting the bomb; and more recently the threat of North Korea and, presently, Iran, have led to alarm about the future.
Many praise President Harry Truman for utilizing the Atomic Bomb, as it saved many American and British, and possibly, homeland Japanese lives.
But others have seen what Truman did as immoral, unethical, and unconscionable.
This caused a controversy when the Smithsonian Institution canceled an exhibit in 1995 on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing, due to protests of veterans.
Now, there are very few veterans of the events of World War II in Asia still alive, and very few survivors of the atomic bombing left to testify on the effect on their lives, although there have been many oral histories and studies done of the subject.
This is a moment to pause and remember the victims; the sacrifices of our soldiers; and to pray that, hopefully, never again will any nation utilize nuclear weapons against any rival, as the monstrosity of nuclear war today is so much greater than the comparatively “small” bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.