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Today in History: Hiroshima

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped nuclear bomb "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 140,000 people.

Chaplain William Downey delivers a prayer for the crew of the Enola Gay before their flight:

“We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

President Harry Truman announced the bombing from aboard the USS. Augusta. Here he discusses the event:

"A short time ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb, we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form, these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development. It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosened against those who brought war to the Far East."

"We have spent more than $2 billion on the biggest scientific gamble in history. And we have won. But the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy or its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in making it work. Hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design and of labor to operate the machines and methods to do things never done before. Both science and industry worked together under the direction of the United States Army which achieved a unique success in an amazingly short time. It is doubtful if such another combination could be gotten together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history."

"We are now prepared to destroy, more rapidly and completely, every productive enterprise the Japanese have in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories and their communications. Let there be no mistake, we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction, that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of war of the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen, and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware."

Thanks to WNYC Archivist Andy Lanset

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