Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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August 6th
Hiroshima
By the summer of 1945, it was becoming clear that the Allies would win World War II in the Pacific. But it was also clear that Japan intended to make it a long, ghastly fight.

Some U.S. war planners feared that as many as 300,000 Americans could die in an invasion of the Japanese home islands, where Japan had some 2.5 million regular troops. Japanese civilians, ready to fight with everything from bamboo spears to suicide bombs, prepared themselves with the slogan “A hundred million will die together for the emperor and the nation!” Thousands of planes stood ready for kamikaze missions. Japanese ground troops had already begun mass suicide attacks. Devastating American losses at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the continuing unwillingness of the Japanese military to consider surrender, and the death each month of thousands of Allied prisoners held by Japan convinced President Harry Truman of the need to use the newly developed atomic bomb to end the war quickly.

On August 6, 1945, a B-29 named the Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. An intense flash gave way to a huge mushroom cloud that rose over the city, followed by a fireball that destroyed five square miles and resulted in 140,000 deaths. When the Japanese did not surrender, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9. More than 70,000 people were killed instantly. An additional 75,000 were horribly injured, alerting the world to the nightmare of radiation poisoning.

On August 15, Emperor Hirohito called upon his people to “endure the unendurable” and surrender. In all the Allied countries, people burst forth in an outpouring of unrestrained joy. But with the celebrations came the sobering realization that the world would never be the same again.

American History Parade
1787
The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia begins to debate a draft of the proposed U.S. Constitution.

1945
The United States drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, which outlaws literacy tests for would-be voters.

1996
NASA announces that American scientists have found possible evidence of a “primitive form of microscopic life” on Mars; the evidence came from fossils on a meteorite believed to have originated on Mars.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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