Daily VideoAugust 6, 2020
Teach your students about the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wearing a protective face mask, offers a wreath to the cenotaph for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 6, 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Credit Kyodo/via REUTERS.
by Syd Golston
Directions: Watch the NewsHour video above with your students and read the article below (click here for transcript). You may wish to stop the video at 2m:22s, for the sake of time. Ask your students: Should U.S. presidents have the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack?
Summary: Seventy-five years ago, on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The United States had offered a surrender, the “Potsdam Declaration,” promising the Japanese an immediate and devastating attack if surrender was refused. Japan rejected the offer. https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/potsdam-declaration/
In his decision to attack with nuclear weapons, President Truman cited the push of the Japanese military in the Pacific during the previous three months that had caused overwhelming American military deaths. Some historians have argued that the bombs were also a display of force intended to check the the Soviet Union.
One million leaflets were dropped on August 1 over Hiroshima and surrounding areas of Japan, warning the residents to evacuate. The power of the atomic bomb was emphasized, with the imperative to evacuate the city. https://www.atomicheritage.org/key-documents/warning-leaflets
The plane that carried the bomb, called the Enola Gay after the mother of pilot Colonel Paul Tibbetts, dropped a 9,000 pound uranium bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima at 8:15 am in the morning. The blast completely destroyed five square miles of the city. https://allthatsinteresting.com/hiroshima-aftermath-pictures
Estimates of the instant deaths were 90,000, but the resulting fires and lingering deaths extended to an approximate 135,000 people. The unspeakable suffering of the victims inspired the accounts of six victims in the book “Hiroshima,” originally printed in a single edition of the New Yorker magazine. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1946/08/31/hiroshima
Despite the terrible aftermath, the Japanese government did not surrender. A second atomic bomb was dropped three days later on the city of Nagasaki. Finally, at noon on August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan. For more information on the development of the atomic weapons and the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, see https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki
Additional resource: Learn how young people in Japan are rushing to document Hiroshima survivors’ memories as the population of survivors dwindles.
Syd Golston is a past president of the National Council for the Social Studies. She taught at all grade levels from middle school to college, specializing in constructivist learning experiences in civics and women’s history. Syd has served as an educational administrator, curriculum writer, historian and author of several books for students and teachers. She lives in the mountain foothills of Scottsdale, Arizona.
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