Solemn anniversary approaches, Aug. 2, 2005

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

In the coming days, a lot of media attention will be focused on the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9).

Much of that focus will be on whether it was militarily necessary for President Harry Truman to authorize vaporizing the two cities. Many are claiming n including former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an early 1960s interview n that it was not necessary; that the Japanese were defeated. I read of one historian who claims to have uncovered evidence that the Japanese were actually trying to surrender in the weeks before the bombing.

The bombs immediately incinerated more than 100,000 residents of those ill-fated cities, with tens of thousands more dying in the ensuing months and years; as well as chronic health problems and birth defects for many who survived the blasts.

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At the time of the bombing, U.S. officials claimed it was necessary in order to save American lives. They claimed that a U.S. invasion of the Japanese mainland would have cost more than a million American lives, not to mention the likely millions of Japanese who would have been killed defending their homeland to the last man.

Those figures are likely inflated. It hardly seems likely that 1 out of 2 U.S. soldiers who might have taken part in an invasion would have died. Nonetheless, the argument cannot be dismissed, particularly after the ferocity with which the Japanese defended Iwo Jima (where my dad's 20-year-old Marine brother perished), Midway, the Philippines, etc.

I would not have been a cakewalk and no doubt thousands would have died. I know my Dad thought it was necessary.

Nonetheless the critics claim the bombings were both the final act of World War II and the first act of the Cold War. That the U.S. plan in dropping the bombs was to show the Soviets our awesome power and that we were not afraid to use it.

I don't know the answer to the question and

I doubt anyone ever will, or if it even matters now. But as we observe the 60th anniversary of this horrible event, we should count our blessings that such weapons have not been used since.