©2013 - Patrick L. Groleau

All Rights Reserved

“I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

This is not about what has been proven by history, that for whatever reason they may begin all wars eventually degenerate until they become contests of senseless brutality within which morality and compassion become subservient to the primeval drive to survive, thus compelling that any and all means are acceptable in achieving victory. This is not about bows and arrows, bullets and guns, shells and cannons, bombs and planes, mechanisms of death which had been perfected prior to that blinding moment 800 feet above the city of Hiroshima.  This is about a fundamental change in human culture, one in which the concepts of “incidental” and “collateral” damage were erased, to be replaced by a new paradigm, the terrifying acceptance of “total” and “mass” destruction.  This is about civilization’s abdication of responsibility.  Someone once remarked, “Yes, but you have to wonder what would have happened if Hitler or Tojo had developed nuclear weapons first?”  The answer, of course, is quit obvious, “The would have embraced as absolutely righteous using them to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings.”


The vast majority of those living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely unaware of either the military or geopolitical importance of the two cities.  Only a very, very small minority of them had been a part of the decision making process that sent the fleet to attack Pearl Harbor.  Mostly, they awoke in the morning to spend their days working hard while wondering what the Fates had in store for them.

The crew members of the planes were good, moral, honest men, who believed as much in the rightiousness of their cause as had their counterparts who felt equally the same as they aimed their craft towards the huge warships berthed quietly below.

Within a few thousand feet of ground zero, all exposed humans were vaporized, any who were within solid buildings survived for a thousandth of a second or so, only to be completely destroyed by a blast wave composed of air pressurized to the consistency of solid steel.  Those who were miles from the center of the explosion were horribly burned by the powerful thermal pulse such weapons emit, a burst of heat/light/radiation energy so intense that shadows of objects were burned into roadways and painted surfaces, and there was nothing remaining of a human sitting on a curbstone other than his shadow scorched into the granite.

If there is a hope to come from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is that these two cities served a lesson which should never have to be repeated.  The lesson isn’t about atomic bombs, for they are mere devices, mechanisms which know nothing but the laws of physics.  No, the lesson is about us.  John Donne taught, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”  We must never stop listening to the bells of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In less time than a blinking eyelid can even begin to move, it was over, two great cities were gone.  Not destroyed, not damaged ... gone.

And, for those miles from the center of the city, who in witnessing the horror had to reflect upon their good fortune in surviving, above them the great black cloud was being to spew forth its vile contents.  When the vomiting began, and their skin burns seemed to unable to heal, it was only then they began to suspect what was to become a plague for generations.  The peace table was not to bring an end to war for these two cities.