How should Catholics respond to the continuing threat of nuclear arms? Returning to John Paul’s reflections at Hiroshima, he challenges us not to accept them as a necessity and to see them as a personal challenge: “There is no justification for not raising the question of the responsibility of each nation and each individual in the face of possible wars and of the nuclear threat. . . . Let us assume responsibility for each other and for the future.”
Ven. Fulton Sheen cuts right to the heart of these effects, ironically when talking to school students about sex. The talk, “,” pinpoints the moral turning point of country to “8:15 in the morning, the 6th of August, 1945,” when, he says, the world changed. The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. This is not simply an historical anniversary, but a continuing call to conversion. The reflections of St. John Paul II and Ven. Fulton Sheen will show how the use of atomic weapons is still a pressing moral issue, not only in terms of warfare, but in terms of broader cultural changes.
Genetic surveys have not yielded positive evidence of genetic hazards due to atomic bomb radiation. Even so, possible A-bomb-induced effects such as spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, congenital malformations, and more, require continued study.
Besides high mortality rates, retarded growth and development was also indicated. Most notable in those exposed within 1.0–5.0 km of ground zero were retarded stature, underweight, and smaller head circumference, a condition called microcephaly, one of the most pathetic aftereffects of the atomic bombings, especially when accompanied by mental retardation.
As with nearly every other effort to remember what happened on Aug. 6, 1945, there was a corresponding effort to forget. The U.S. military refused to allow the footage to be released for decades, in his book “Atomic Cover-Up.” Officials hoped that Americans’ collective memory of the bombings would end, Mitchell explains, with the image of the mushroom cloud — a demonstration of U.S. might, free of any reckoning with the devastation wrought by that explosion.
This American taboo over discussing the U.S. use of a weapon of mass destruction on a civilian population center reached its apotheosis in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum planned to display for the first time the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, in an exhibit that connected it with the devastation wrought by the bomb. Veterans' groups, backed by conservative politicians, against the exhibit — in particular the decision to include imagery demonstrating the impact of the bomb on civilians. In a comprehensive account of the controversy, which led to a series of still-debated compromises by the Smithsonian, the historian Michael Hogan writes that the museum’s curators were stunned by the request from some veterans to omit the atom bomb’s impact on Hiroshima from the story of the Enola Gay. One of them told a reporter for Knight-Ridder: "They want to stop the story when the bomb leaves the bomb bay.”
Two days later, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. On August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on , where 80,000 Japanese people perished.
People beyond the direct effects of primary radiation (near ground zero) suffered effects of radioactivity in fallout. Actual numbers are unknown, but besides local residents, affected persons included relief and first-aid teams. One survey lists 57,839 early entrants and 9,184 engaged in rescue activity for Hiroshima, and respective numbers of 21,315 and 3,035 for Nagasaki.
Other critics argued that American diplomats had ulterior motives. The Soviet Union had entered the war against Japan, and the atomic bomb could be read as a strong message for the Soviets to tread lightly. In this respect, Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have been the first shots of the Cold War as well as the final shots of World War II. Regardless, the United States remains the only nation in the world to have used a nuclear weapon on another nation.
In Japan, the bombings and their human toll have been widely portrayed in film, literature and comics, but the country has struggled with its own silences. It took decades for Japan to acknowledge as , or bomb-affected people, the tens of thousands of Koreans kept as prisoners or used as slave laborers by the Japanese. A handful of European prisoners of war are also listed. Even "Barefoot Gen," a pioneering Hiroshima survivor’s tale, has recently fallen out of favor among some Japanese, who reject its depiction of Japanese brutality as an affront to the country’s heroic past.
The President rejected a demonstration of the atomic bomb to the Japanese leadership. He knew there was no guarantee the Japanese would surrender if the test succeeded, and he felt that a failed demonstration would be worse than none at all. Even the scientific community failed to foresee the awful effects of . Truman saw little difference between atomic bombing Hiroshima and Dresden or Tokyo.