August 6th, 1945 at 8:10 am. A single American plane over Hiroshima dropped the first of two atomic weapons - thus far the only nuclear weapons ever used in war. More people died in Tokyo from the incendiary bombs we dropped there than died in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. But the power and the destruction of the nukes was undeniable.
Today the debate still rages over whether the US was justified in bombing these civilian targets with such horrific weaponry. Knowing, as I do, the history of the Pacific War and the tenacity of the Japanese, I am of the view that a net savings of lives was the effect of the atomic bombings of Japan. Even a cursory study of the battles fought at Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, or Okinawa will reveal very clearly that the Japanese had no concept of surrender with honor. It was their intent to fight to the last man, woman, and child. Logistical planners for the invasion of mainland Japan expected one million American casualties!
It pains me to think of the innocents that were killed in that blast. But the rational part of me realizes that far more death would have resulted from the conventional invasion that was the only other option to end the war.
Another legacy of the atomic bombings has been to redirect contemporary attention away from Japanese atrocities committed during WWII. There are far too many to list here, but the Massacre of US POWS at Palawan can certainly qualify as an atrocity that has largely been forgotten.
The overriding lesson that mankind never seems to learn is the horror and tragedy of war. And while we all are correct in hoping for peace, we are foolish to not remain ready to fight if need be. An even bigger mistake we seem to be making these days is our complete inability to identify our enemies, whether they be foreign - or domestic.
May God bless the Republic.