The Atomic Bomb was a significant part of a critical period in the history of the United States. The beginning of the atomic bomb started in the early morning hours of July 16, 1945, at White Sands Missile Range near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project was the head of the project. Years of research, and tests were all being proven on this day. As soon as the bomb hit there came this tremendous burst of light followed by the deep explosion. The explosion carrying more power than 20,000 tons of TNT and visible for more than 200 miles was a sucess. The world's first atomic bomb had been detonated. With the start of the nuclear age, new events in the art of warfare started. The war in Europe had stopped in May. The war between the United States and Japan would receive full attention from the United States War Department. As late as May 1945, the U.S. was engaged in heavy fighting with the Japanese at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In these most bloody conflicts, the United States had roughly 75,000 casualties. These victories insured the United States was within air striking distance of the Japanese mainland. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, just four years before, was still printed in the minds of many Americans. A feeling of hate and grief to end the war strengthened the resolve of the United States to quickly and decisively conclude it. This led up the involvment of the United States and the atomic bomb. President Harry Truman had many options to turn to for ending the war that such as invade the Japanese mainland, hold a demonstration of the destructive power of the atomic bomb for Japanese people to see, drop an atomic bomb on selected industrial Japanese cities, bomb and blockade the islands, wait for Soviet entry into the war on August 15, or try a compromised peace. Operation Olympia, a full scale landing of United States armed forces, was already planned for Kyushu on November 1, 1945 and a bomb and blockade plan had already been instituted over the Japanese mainland for several months. The Japanese resolve to fight had been seriously stopped in the previous months. Their losses at Iwo Jima and Okinawa had been dreadful. Their navy had stopped to exist as an effective fighting force and the air corps had been almost destroyed. American B-29's made bombing runs over military targets on the Japanese mainland a important part of their air campaign. Japan's lack of air power hindered their ability to fight. The idea of bombing and the use of devastating city bombing in Europe eventually gave the United States leaders no choice bumb to bomb major Japanese cities. Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe all were destroyed by incendiary and other bombs. In all, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in these air strikes meant to scare the Japanese people. Yet, Japanese resolve stayed strong and the idea of a bloody invasion of the Japanese mainland would produce more American and Allied casualties. The Allies in late July 1945 declared at Potsdam that the Japanese must surrender. After Japanese leaders rejected the Potsdam Declaration, President Truman authorized use of the atomic bomb anytime after August 3, 1945. On the morning of August 6, the first atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. Leveling over 60 percent of the city, 70,000 residents died instantaneously in a searing flash of heat. At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of industrial and military power. A number of military camps were located nearby, including the headquarters of the Fifth Division and 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. Hiroshima was a minor supply and logistics base for the Japanese military. The city was a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. It was one of several Japanese cities left deliberately untouched by American bombing, allowing an ideal environment to measure the damage caused by the atomic bomb. Another account that after General Spaatz reported was that Hiroshima was the only targeted city without prisoner of war camps, Washington decided to assign it highest priority. The center of the city had several reinforced concrete buildings and lighter structures. Outside the center, the area was surrounded by a dense collection of small wooden workshops set among Japanese houses. A few larger industrial plants lay near the outskirts of the city. The houses were of wooden construction with tile roofs, and many of the industrial buildings also were of wood frame construction. The city as a whole was highly vurnerable to fire damage. The population of Hiroshima had reached over 381,000 earlier in the war, but prior to the atomic bombing the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack the population was approximately 255,000. On August 9, a second bomb, Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki. Over 20,000 people died instantly. In the following weeks, thousands more Japanese died from the after effects of the radiation exposure of the blast. The city was rebuilt after the war, albeit dramatically changed. New temples were built, as well as new churches due to an increase in the presence of Christianity. Nagasaki is the seat of a Catholic archdiocese led by Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Tagami. Some of the rubble was left as a memorial, such as a one-legged torii gate and an arch near ground zero. New structures were also raised as memorials, such as the Atomic Bomb Museum. Nagasaki remains first and foremost a port city, supporting a rich shipping industry and setting a strong example of love and peace. The effects of the atom bomb still remain today. Although no other nuclear bombs have been set off as severe as Nagasaki or Hiroshima, the impact it had on Japan's population still remain today. The catastrophy the bombs caused resulted in the atom bomb only being a means of threating power today. The question today is America has to hope a bomb of that porportion does not get used by wrong hands.
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