Today is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. There is much controversy centering around whether the US should of dropped the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II. In this series of postings I will discuss this issue along with providing the historical context that went into the decision to use nuclear weapons.
From the Trinity Site to Hiroshima
The first nuclear weapon was tested at the Trinity Site on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 16, 1945. The 19 kiloton bomb was put on a 100 foot steel tower and exploded, causing what witnesses said, the sun to rise twice that day.
I have actually visited the Trinity Site on the White Sands Missile Range which is open to the public only twice a year. One girder of the original tower remains, the rest was evaporated, and the sand below the explosion was turned into a emerald green colored glass called Trinitite. Visitors are told not to pick it up because the glass is still radioactive.
In this photo notice the lack of vegetation compared to the green brush you see in the distance. This is because of the remaining radiation due to the Trinitite that remains in the ground that effects plant life there.
This is the memorial at the center of the Trinity Site.
The MacDonald Ranch house is where the nuclear bomb was assembled and also served as home to the scientists during the assembly phase of the nuclear bomb. When it came time to test the bomb the house was vacated, but some how the house survived the nuclear explosion:
What makes the house’s survival more amazing is that structures around the farmhouse were leveled by the bomb:
But even more amazing then the house surviving is that this windmill some how survived:
This same phenomenon of singular structures remaining while others were completely obliterated by the bomb would happen again the next month in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
Hiroshima after the bombing in 1945
Hiroshima was a city of military importance. The city contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and the 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. The city was also a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for the Japanese military. There was military justification for the attack to go along with the perceived need of the US leadership to break the will of the Japanese people by destroying an entire city. The weather was good, and the crew and equipment of the Enola Gay B-29 aircraft piloted and commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets, took off to bomb their primary target of Hiroshima. The Enola Gay dropped the nuclear bomb called “Little Boy” over the central part of the city. It exploded about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above the city, killing initially an estimated 80,000 civilians. The radiation poisoning would claim twice as many lives as the initial bombing.
Today Hiroshima is a thriving city that has a deep memory of the tragedy of August 6, 1945. The city has erected a museum and memorial to mourn the victims of the atomic bombing. It is almost hard to believe today that Hiroshima was the site of an atomic bombing:
Hiroshima today is a thriving city.
Next Posting: Remembering Nagasaki