Sixtieth anniversaries are few and far between. Not many people are still around for them for one thing. Those who are, usually don’t have much more time to spend with us. These events need to be honoured and cherished by all who have any connection, no matter how slim, to the circumstances.
August 6th 2005 will mark the 60th anniversary of the dropping of an Atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Just four days latter Nagasaki was devastated by a second blast. Although many people point to the allied fire bombing of Dresden in Germany as the most devastating in terms of civilian casualties, that doesn’t take into account the post blast consequences.
The long term effects of the radiation left behind by the two bombs continued to show up in post blast generations. Birth defects, sterility, and other symptoms associated with exposure to high levels of radiation were common place for years after.
I’d like to think that in our naiveté at the time our leaders didn’t fully understand the implications of what they were doing. That they were not just dropping an incredibly high powered bomb would never occur to them. I would hate to think of anybody consciously deciding to use a weapon that they knew would devastate generations to come no matter what the circumstances.
When I’ve talked to people of my parent’s generation about the bombing they have, in most instances, said there initial reaction was that of relief that the war would be over. For people like my father who were a year away from entering the army it meant that they would not have to take part in an invasion of Japan. Given the previous tenacity shown in their defence of outlying territories they had previously occupied, it was reasonably expected that casualties in a land war would be astronomical for both sides.
What we know now is that Japan’s war machine was coming down to it’s last legs. They had always had very low reserves of the oil and natural resources necessary for arming themselves, and the four years of war fare had just about exhausted their supplies. Any invasion would have been bitterly contested, but without proper equipment they could not have held out for long.
Hindsight has always been said to be twenty-twenty so judgement in that area is probably unfair. If I had been alive at the time I doubt I would have reacted any differently than others of that generation. It would have been such a relief for the war to be finally over.