No going back

“Of 71 major Japanese cities, four had escaped major damage in the war—Kyoto, Kokura, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Because Kyoto housed sacred religious shrines, President Truman removed it from consideration as a site. In the end, the target that was chosen was Hiroshima, a manufacturing city of 350,000 residents, because of a vast military installation, a large T-shaped bridge that the bombardier could use as a target, and the supposed absence of Allied prisoner-of-war camps in the area. In the days preceding the bomb drop, U.S. bombers blanketed the city with leaflets warning the inhabitants to leave. . . . The bomb exploded 1,900 feet above Shima Hospital in Hiroshima’s midsection with a force equal to 12,500 tons of TNT. A blinding light brightened the sky, and a dark cloud spread for three miles in diameter. From the midst arose a white mushroom cloud. Within one second, four square miles of Hiroshima disappeared and 80,000 people died. City residents were vaporized by the intense 300,000-degree Centigrade heat, which imprinted their shadows on sidewalks and bridge structures. Shortly after the explosion, a radioactive black rain started falling on the city. . . . The copilot, Captain Robert A. Lewis, stared at the frightening explosion and muttered, ‘My God, what have we done?’ “ – “Dropping of the Atomic Bombs,” The World War II Desk Reference, Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew, eds.

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