The sun is shining warmly on you, a tropical breeze ruffles the Hawaiian palm trees and the waves lap at the sides of the ships and tease the beach. But in the distance you hear a low humming, getting louder and you see them, Japanese fighter planes in bombing formation. You see the bellies of the planes open up, and watch as bombs fall, headed towards you and the ship you stand on. On December 7, 1941, the United States Naval Base suffered a surprise attack by Japanese fighter planes. President Franklin Roosevelt reacted, calling it “a date which will live in infamy”.“‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’: FDR Asks for a Declaration of War.” HISTORY MATTERS. The attack killed 2403 Americans, triggering outrage across the country. 19 ships were damaged or sunk, including the USS Arizona, which is now a site of tourism as its ghostly hull can be seen below the blue green sea, in fact it still leaks oil to this day. The attack led to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, which ultimately was a better choice than invading Japan.
A day later on December 8, 1941 the United States officially declared war on Japan, bringing America into the second world war. However, it took a while before America was actually ready to join the fight. Approximately a year later the US launched a surprise attack, the Guadalcanal.This triggered the battle strategy known as island hopping, where the United States strategically conquered islands that Japan had imperialized. This method, by Douglas MacArthur, allowed America to move closer and closer to the mainland, a viper getting ready to strike. “A Guide to the War in the Pacific: The Pacific Offensive.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Meanwhile, scientists and physicists including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi were working on the Manhattan Project, which was kept secret from all allies. They were finding a way to split the uranium atom, making an atomic bomb more powerful than any that had come before it. The first bomb was tested in New Mexico, at Trinity Site, Alamogordo. With a mushroom cloud reaching 40,000 feet and a bright flash visible for 200 miles, the bomb was unlike anything seen before. “The Manhattan Project.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association
World War 2 officially began on September 1,1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, having previously been warned not to by Britain and France in the League of Nations. The US joined the war 2 years later, joining the Allies: the UK, France, and the US. On the opposing side, the Axis Powers were Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Soviet Union and Germany had previously had a non violence agreement, but Hitler broke that pact in 1940 when he invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa. Henceforth, Russia joined the Allies to battle against Hitler, and consequently lost more men than all the other countries. Germany used the tactic of blitzkrieg, where they would bomb an area via planes, called Luftwaffe, then invade it to completely annihilate and conquer a country. They tried this tactic with the UK but were unsuccessful, as Winston Churchill was able to rally the British people and overcome the attacks.
The first bomb, named Fat Man, was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. The initial explosion nearly wiped out the city, and killed 80,000 Japanese, mostly citizens. Surprisingly, the emperor of Japan, Hirohito, did not surrender, even as the United States threatened to drop another devastating bomb. August 9, 1945 the second bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 people, although tens of thousands more would die from radiation, which led to untreatable cancers. While the United States only had two bombs, they continued to threaten Japan with bombs they didn’t have. Finally on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito surrendered. History.com Staff. “Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan is a hotly debated topic today, both sides making good points. Ultimately, President Truman made the right choice to drop the bombs in Japan. Reason number one if the United States was able to design the atomic bomb, and later stronger bombs like nukes, other countries like Russia would’ve been able to figure it out as well. This could’ve led to a cold war anyways, or worse yet Russia could have attacked America, believing us to be weak. Secondly, the United States showed its strength to fend off enemy countries like Russia. Lastly an invasion into Japan would’ve cost more lives on both sides. However, the opposing side, including scientist Albert Einstein himself argued against the dropping of the atomic bombs, insisting that there would be too much carnage. To add, it was unnecessary since Japan would have surrendered without the use of the bombs. In addition, a total of 120,000 Japanese citizens died from the bombs, with tens of thousands more who would die from radiation poisoning and untreatable cancers. It was immoral to drop the bombs, since civilian men, women, and children were killed because their Emperor refused to surrender. However, the dropping of the atomic bombs forced Emperor Hirohito to surrender. Lastly if America had decided to send in soldiers and invade Japan, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have died, along with an estimated 5-10 million Japanese.
In conclusion, it was a better option to drop the atomic bombs. As a whole, WW2 was a mistake, due to the facts that it could have been prevented in the first place if the Allies were more lenient with Germany with the Treaty of Versailles and if countries such as America, Britain, and Canada had opened their borders to Jewish Refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Also, while WW2 provided temporary economic equality for women, African Americans, and Latin@s, the US went back to its sexist, racist ways when the war ended. However if we focus on just the dropping of the atomic bombs, that was a better choice than invading Japan since in the end it cost less lives, both Japanese and American. To prevent genocides like the Holocaust, America must open its borders to all refugees, regardless of religion. Also, our nukes should never be used, they are too large and if we must bomb another country we must use small bombs for specific targets to minimize civilian casualties.
Article by Karly Talbot & Video by Tiffany Wong
“‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’: FDR Asks for a Declaration of War.” HISTORY MATTERS – The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5166.
“A Guide to the War in the Pacific: The Pacific Offensive.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/npswapa/extContent/wapa/guides/offensive/sec3.htm.
“The Manhattan Project.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, www.ushistory.org/us/51f.asp.History.com Staff. “Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki.