Friday, August 6, 2010


Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Enola Gay's historic flight, to drop an atomic bomb upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of Hiroshima. In a flash, energy like that found in star, was unleashed over a city, obliterating it and incinerating a large number of its residents, who became mere piles of ash, and leaving still others to suffer the effects of radiation poisoning for decades to come.

A great deal of time and effort has gone into debating the use of the atomic bomb to end the war. Some say it was barbaric and unnecessary; others point to the fanatical zeal of Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and the potential horror of an invasion of the Japanese home islands as a good reason to end the war then and there. In a way, it is useless to debate the issue, for it has happened, the events were set in motion, and so many decades removed, the dry words of reports and history books cannot fill us with the urgency, the horror, the blood, and the pain of WWII to more than a peripheral degree. We were not there, at that time, had not suffered through the horror of what seemed like a never-ending succession of fights to the death.

Still, the immensity of this moment, when the most horrible of weapons was unleashed, cannot be over-looked, for it changed the world in ways we could not fathom at the time. It may have ended a hot war quickly and efficiently, but it also triggered a cold war, whose heat lay festering below the ground in silos, in the air aboard strategic bombers, and below the sea in ballistic missile submarines. The world after the end of WWII was a place of high drama, fear, panic, and tension, with the potential destruction of the whole world one flock of geese or one nervous leader away.

Let us pause to remember the needless deaths of Hiroshima, from the standpoint of a war the Japanese need not have fought, and the United States needed to end, but perhaps not in such a way as this. We cannot rewrite the pages of history, undo the moment, resurrect the dead, but we can remember all that came and passed at that moment, and use it as the fuel to vow that we will never allow conflict to attain that level again, and we will strive to whatever lengths we must to maintain peace. Let this anniversary serve as a re-dedication of our efforts to bring humanity together as one, to live in peace and harmony for all time.

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