Daily Video

August 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.

 

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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.

People wearing protective face masks release paper lanterns on the Motoyasu River facing the gutted Atomic Bomb Dome in remembrance of atomic bomb victims on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan August 6, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS.

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

Devastation is seen in the vicinity of ‘ground zero’ after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in an undated photograph. Department of Defense/Department of the Air Force/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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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