August 6, 1945: Hiroshima plus 75

light a candle

I’ve mentioned before how the late Paul Peca, my sixth-grade teacher, was arguably the best one I ever had. As I noted here, he believed the conventional wisdom. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, was necessary in order to end World War II in the Pacific.

I pushed back against that. But hey, I was only a kid. It wasn’t until years later I discovered this 1963 quote by the first President in my lifetime, Dwight David Eisenhower. He was, of course, a five-star general in World War II, and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.

Ike wrote: “Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary… Secondly, our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”

116 Days

FOX news guy Chris Wallace was on CBS This Morning this past June. He was discussing his new book, “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World.”

The review of the book in the New York Times makes the process of deciding quite riveting.

“In the end, the reader is forced to ask: Should Truman have dropped the bombs? Wallace points out that more than 100,000 people were part of the bomb-making effort, the program was approved by Roosevelt and over $2 billion was spent. ‘It is unrealistic,’ Wallace says, ‘to think Harry Truman would make any other choice.’ Truman himself exulted after the success of Little Boy, ‘This is the greatest thing in history.’

“Was it? Wallace’s superb, masterly book lets the reader decide.”

Peace response

Upper Hudson Peace Action notes: “Recognizing and remembering those who perished in the horror of the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge.

“Throughout the day on August 6th,” on the UHPA Facebook page, there will be posts “featuring pieces of John Hersey’s novel Hiroshima, along with speeches related to the bombing, first account testimonials, videos of Hiroshima and photographs.”

They are “asking people to put a candle in their window or porch (an electric candle in the home might be safer – use your judgment) at sundown, on the nights of August 6th and 7th.” Also please place either a peace crane – here is link with instructions for making one – or the Picasso peace dove,” pictured, “next to your candle along with a sign that says: WE MOURN THE 250,000 DEAD IN THE DROPPING OF THE ATOMIC BOMBS.”