Friday, August 05, 2005

Original Child Bomb

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the atomic explosions in Japan which brought about their surrender and the end of World War 2.

At the Editor and Publisher website site, you can read an account of once lost, once secret film footage of the two events at this link.

The story follows the long and winding path of film footage shot in the aftermath of the explosions, and this weekend you can see a broadcast on IFC television made from some of that footage. If you don't have the Independent Film Channel, I'm sure you can find a copy of the movie online to buy. (Yes, I said pay money fer it!)

The explosions, what they mean, resonate throughout the world to this very day. And Tennessee is home to the bomb's creation, and will again be a site for protests and remembrances. Yes, Tennessee is home to "The Secret City."

I am glad I did not endure the horrors of World War 2. When I was born in 1960, America was involved in an Arms Race that had folks digging shelters in the yard, ducking under desks in grade school, and, as my Mom says, it was makin' folks as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

I am a member of the same college frat (Lambda Chi Alpha) whose national membership includes Harry S. Truman, the man who gave the go orders for dropping those bombs. I remember seeing the greenish irradiated penny in a plastic box my older brother David got on a school tour of Oak Ridge. As an adult, I've witnessed the rebuke of pleas of Oak Ridge workers, who gladly worked in dangerous conditions, pleas for assistance with health care due to the exposures to atomic testing.

The Japan I grew up with gave the world transistors, popular cars, A Fistful of Dollars (better known as "Yojimbo'), The Magnificent Seven (originally "The Seven Samurai'),
and that Sony Playsation 2 by the television. We won't even get into the popularity of anime books and magazines, like Shonen Jump, which young people eagerly buy in any grocery store or even K-Mart, from Morristown, TN to Nagasaki, Japan.

The stories from friends and family, and the images of that horrifying time of World War, are just as deeply ingrained as my own personal experiences. The residue of the atomic explosions, as I said, still shape the human condition today. Surely I am not the only one to sense the irony and oddity of seeing World War 2 games being played on PlayStation game systems in just a 60-year turnaround of world affairs. The Optimist inside says the explosions made the world a lot smaller and people a lot smarter. The Pessimest says, Oh No, it made us all more afraid, full of the dread that we truly live in a Time marked by Atomic Clocks constantly ticking towards midnight.

The story of that film footage is also a part of world history, and whatever your opinons about atomic weapons, it is important to know how that history was censored, withheld, hidden away for fear of how it might make us react. It is important to understand what happened then, and what atomic Power, in the political sense means today. It is so very hard to grasp loss of those tens of millions around the world who died in that not-so-distant past. That is part of the history too.

Much of the success we had in World War 2 was also about Secrecy -- secret codes, secret cities, secret missions, Enigma machines, secrets so encrypted it literally powered the creation of computer systems just to keep up.
Whatever your views of using atomic weapons at that time, I think we should all remember we still are getting new information from those who were there. Secrecy has it's price too.

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