The 65th Anniversary of Hiroshima is, today. Â The anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan marks the first time atomic weapons were actively used. Â This anniversary also is the first time the US will attend a memorial in honor of those who lost their lives in the wake of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. A photographer who captured it all, finally gets his due.
The Hiroshima 65th Anniversary is less of a celebration of an infamous day than it is of life beyond the atomic bomb.
According to Wikipedia, After six months of intense strategic fire-bombing of 67 Japanese cities the Japanese government ignored an ultimatum given by the Potsdam Declaration. By executive order of President Harry S. Truman the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of "Fat Man" over Nagasakion August 9.
The decision in the Hiroshima bombing was purely a strategic one that would tip the scales of the war in the US's favor. Â Hiroshima was a large city with a dense population. Â To the military, it was a prime target for bombing due to it being a communications hub for operations and the second command center for the Japanese Military.
For those who can recall the events in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, what is mostly remembered is the iconic images of a mushroom cloud that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
The grainy black and white images were taken by young John McGlohon. Â It is a series of images the young military photographerÂ took, on the day Hiroshima was bombed by the United States, ultimately ending WWII.
McGlohon, 18, at the time, took a journey to Winston-Salem to talk to a military recruiter. Â Nothing odd about that; many young boys of his age were intent on doing something patriotic for their country. Â Perhaps, it was pressure from their parents to do something with their lives. Â Likely, it was just young boys who acted on a whim, oftentimes with nothing else to do with their time.
"He said, 'Where do you want to go?'" McGlohon recalls, referring to the recruiter. Â "I said, 'Just as far as you can send me.'"
Young McGlohon got his wish; he was headed to the military. Â In 1941, he would join a Photo Reconnaissance Squadron which took a series of aerial photographs for mapping purposes and bombing runs. Â Then, the war efforts ramped up; the US were losing the war.
For the remainder of the war, McGlohon would be relegated to taking pictures from the bellies of massive bombers. Â On August 6, 1945, the crew of theÂ Enola-Gay, a massive B-29 Superfortress, a bomb would drop over the city of Hiroshima, and McGlohon would capture the famous iconic image above the mushroom cloud. Little did he know, over 140,000 lives would be taken in almost an instant, and the last shots fired in the war would soon be over.
Mission: Â The Dropping of the World's first Atomic Bomb
The plane that had just passed he and his crew would deploy the world's first atomic bomb, or "atom bomb" as they referred to it decades ago.
McGlohon, at the time, had no idea that history would be made; only a handful of individuals knew what the mission was. Â The cargo aboard the Enola-Gay was to be kept secret because of the uncertainty of what the bomb would do. Â Because it had never been actively used during World War II or any other time in history, it was best to keep the sensitive mission a secret.
Photographer Gets His Due
McGlohon and his crew were not given the order to head back, so he and his flight crew remained and captured some incredible, historical footage. Â However, because they were not assigned to be in the area, the coveted images would be credited to another crew not in the area.
In fact, when the mission was over, McGlohon was met by two Marine Soldiers who demanded the film after learning of the images he developed in the dark room. Â Once it was known that McGlohon had captured footage of the atomic bomb and the powerful mushroom cloud that followed, he would not see the photographs again. Â At least, not until 1995.
McGlohon would not receive his just due for forty years, after beginning a mission in 1995 to set the record straight. Â After muchÂ perseverance, interviews, and researching, his efforts paid off. Â This became another pivotal part of the Photographer's life. Â Thanks to hard work, and a burning spirit to get his just due, the truth was unveiled.
That hard work came from a friend, Ken Samuelson. Â He and McGlohon met in 1998. Â After familiarizing himself with McGlohon and his dilemma, he set on a mission to prover that McGlohon was no poseur as others would characterize him. Samuelson gathered as much evidence as he could to give McGlohon his due. After many conversations and data, Samuelson was able to right the wrong of so many years.
It is to be noted that McGlohon, raised in humble beginnings, remained that way up to the point in which he did receive his due. Â He never set out on a mission of self-indulgence, nor did he have any intention of glorifying himself.
US Attends for the First Time, Hiroshima 65th Anniversary
Solemn ringing of bells, as is characteristic of this annual memorial, marked the 65th anniversary, today, of the bombing of Hiroshima. Â This emotional moment was the very first time the United States attended a ceremony alongside its former nemesis.
As if the perfect set of circumstances came together, the day was reminiscent of 65 years ago when the sky was as pristine as it was, today. Â The only difference is that the city of Hiroshima would become a final resting place for scores of people who lost their lives from the atomic bomb.
High-ranking Representatives from all over the world, numbering 70 or so nations, were present to pay their respects.
Although President Barack Obama was not present, Washington sent John Roos, US Ambassador, to the annual memorial located at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Representatives from France and Britain, US allies during WWII, were also present as a symbolic gesture. Â It's hard to imagine that 65 years ago, these countries were, along with the US, were aligned against Japan, and today, they pay their respects.
The memories of August 6, 1945 are still clear to McGlohon. Â Feelings are mixed. Â In one vein history was made with some thought-provoking pictures of the wars ugly side. Â Conversely, history was also made at the other end when the reality lingers like a stagnant mushroom cloud.
"We saw cities burning every day," McGlohon says.
In the final analysis, the 65th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagaski and the dropping of the first atomic bomb was pivotal during the nations unrest. Â Lives were lost, ways of life would change, and the allure of building more weapons of mass destruction would define the "unthinkable". Â But, what remains are memories, captured from the lens of a young cameraman in the wake of a mushroom cloud.
Quoting the writer of this moving and well researched story, Martha Quillin, of the Charlotte Observer: Â "McGlohon defended his country. Thanks to Samuelson, he no longer has to defend his story."
See Mushroom Cloud Pictres, here.
Source: Charlotte Observer by Martha Quillin
Â©2010 by Bruce Baker for Gather.com, All rights reserved.