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by Marc Jampole
A sudden flash of light, followed by a gigantic ever-expanding mushroom cloud. Within minutes the explosion destroys virtually everything and everyone within a mile radius, including innocent children. A black rain of soot and oil descends on the region. Those who survive have severe burns and other injuries. A silent atmospheric poison leads to tens of thousands of deaths in the months and years ahead. In all, 140,000 people die.
That’s a fairly sanitized version of what happened at Hiroshima, Japan, where the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb 68 years ago on August 6, 1945. Three days later, we dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, another mid-sized Japanese city, killing 80,000 and injuring thousands more. These two instances mark the only atomic bombs that any nation has ever deployed.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that December 7, 1941 was a day that would live in infamy because that was the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, killing 2,402 Americans and injuring another 1,282. About 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks. We routinely memorialize these days, yet we keep relatively quiet about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which are surely the two most savage and barbarous single actions in the history of mankind. (By contrast, the destruction of 5.7 million European Jews known as the Holocaust consisted of a series of thousands of actions).
Before writing this article, I did a quick check on Google News about the events of the day. Here’s what I found:
Hiroshima: 90,000 stories
Shark Week on the Discovery Channel: 203,000
Apple, the computer and smart phone company: 348,000
Jennifer Aniston, a popular celebrity: 1,930,000
Chris Brown, a popular entertainer: 17,600,000
In other words, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was effectively ignored by the news media today. Sure, the Wall Street Journal mentioned it as a one-sentence “factoid” at the bottom of its “Morning Moneybeat” and The New York Times buried a short description of Hiroshima Day events in the New York area in its August 1 roundup of upcoming events in the “Arts” section. The Washington Post’s website had a photo gallery of remembrances taking place throughout the world. Compare this paltry coverage with what we get every year about Pearl Harbor Day and 9/11.
August 6 should be declared a permanent day of mourning in the United States, a day when as a society we ask for forgiveness for our sin of mass destruction. Every year, our president should attend a Hiroshima memorial and make a major speech about peace and disarmament. The news media should give wide coverage to Hiroshima remembrances. Our summer camps should engage our children in some commemoration of this tragic day when America lost its ethical bearings. Religious figures should focus their sermons on the horrors of Hiroshima on the Sundays before August 6.
Moreover, I believe that we should posthumously impeach and convict the president who made the decision to drop the bomb—Harry S. Truman, who should go down in history as a villain as heinous in his own way as Hitler and Mao. Certainly over time Hitler and Mao caused more death and suffering than Truman, but no tyrant, king, dictator, or elected leader has been responsible for more deaths in one day than Truman—and he did it twice! Don’t believe the nonsense that Truman saved more lives than were killed by the atomic attacks. Japan was already on its knees and ready to surrender before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was absolutely no reason to drop these terrifying weapons of mass destruction, except to frighten the Soviet Union. Evil does not reside in the mind, but in our actions. Truman was one of the most evil men in history, responsible for the two most evil single actions in the history of mankind.
Despite the fact that the media has practically ignored Hiroshima Day, I hope that my dear readers all take a little time today to feel shame at being citizens of the only nation ever to use the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
Marc Jampole is a poet and writer who runs Jampole Communications, a public relations and communications firm in Pittsburgh. He blogs several times a week at OpEdge.