Sixty eight years ago today, on 6 August 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets flew his B-29 Enola Gay from Tinian Island in the Marianas to Hiroshima, Japan. At 0815 local time the first atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, dropped through the bomb bay doors. As Tibbets banked away, the bomb fell for 57 seconds before detonating 2,000 feet above the city. It is estimated that 80,000 people were likely killed during the initial blast. Perhaps as many as 166,000 ultimately died from the after effects, including cancers caused by the radiation fall out.
Three days later, on 9 August, Major Charles W Sweeney flew his B-29 Bockscar loaded with the second atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, to Kokura, Japan. Cloud cover over the primary target forced Major Sweeney to fly on to Nagasaki, where he dropped Fat Man at 1101 local time. The bomb fell for 43 seconds and detonated 1,540 feet above the city. It is estimated that 45,000 people were likely killed during the initial blast. Perhaps as many as 80,000 ultimately died from the after effects, including cancers caused by the radiation fall out.
On 15 August 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito read to his people via radio broadcast the document of surrender. It was the first time that most Japanese had ever heard their leader's voice. On 28 August, the occupation of Japan began. And on 2 September 1945, aboard USS Missouri, the official instrument of surrender was signed and all global fighting in World War II finally came to an end.
It is estimated that anywhere from 50 million to more than 70 million human beings were killed as a result of World War II, from direct military action or war related disease and famine, or from crimes against humanity.
I commemorate these events of August 1945, not to gloat or to extoll the virtues of my nation, but to remind myself that there is an awful price to be paid in blood and sacrifice when we step forward and defend our right to be who we are and live in freedom. If the choice is to pick up the sword and go forth to war, then let it be the last option after all other options are earnestly exhausted.