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The Search


As I searched for the answers to the questions I had asked about the use of atomic weapons during W.W.II, I found that there were very few simple answers to be found. After reading articles, attending lectures, and watching documentaries about America’s use of atomic weaponry, I still could not offer any simple concise responses. I found that my failure to find explanations was not was not my fault, and it was not a problem with my sources. I came to realize that the flaw in my search were the questions I sought to answer, which were not the question I should have been asking. ‘Why did America nuke Japan?’ ‘Was dropping the bomb necessary?’ ‘Was the second bomb necessary?’. The answer to these questions changes depending on ones frame of reference. This meant that there was no single clear, simple answer to my questions. 



The Interview


When I started looking for material on the morality of dropping Little Boy and Fat Man, the two atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Japan, I expected to find that most sources would condemn the use of such force on civilian populations. I found that my expectation of the rest of the world to share my disgust for such disregard of human life, was due to the generation gap between myself and the generation that had been in favor of utilizing atomic weaponry.


My grandfather’s generation, a generation that made such great sacrifices and suffered such great loss during W.W.II, had an entirely different frame of reference. Living in the 21st century, almost seven decades after W.W.II, I am unable to put myself in the shoes of my grandfather, but after interviewing him I enlightened. From my grandfathers perspective, having fought for America in W.W.II, he found the use of Little Boy on Hiroshima not to be immoral. When I read my grandfather, Edgar, a part of an article in which the author proclaimed that the original justification for dropping the bomb was vengeance, Edgar completely rejected the notion. This denial showed how strongly Edgar wanted to believe that America used the atomic force for the right reasons.

The Take Away
Interviewing my grandfather was an eye opening experience. After talking to someone who had such a radically different frame of reference on a controversial issue like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it really hit me how the world is not black and white, and just because something appears to be obvious to you, it may be completely different for another person.


 Miller, Edgar. WWII veteran. interviewed March 13, 2010.


Hein, Laura; Fifty Years After the Bomb: Commemoration, Censorship, and Conflict. August 9, 1997.


 Bernstein, Barton, professor of American History at Stanford University. Lecture attended April 18, 2010.