Pearl Harbor was the beginning of World War II for the United States, an attack on the unsuspecting island of Oahu while peace negotiations between America and Japanese were still in session. The Japanese sent a two page message, declaring war upon the United States but it did not reach the Americans until Pearl Harbor was already under attack. From December 7, 1941 until September 2, 1945, the United States was at war on two fronts; in the Pacific with the Japanese and in Europe against Nazi Germany. Between those two dates ferocious battles were waged and many lives were lost on both sides.
Every day of fighting during WWII was vital to the cause but perhaps, none more so than the two most fateful days in Japanese history and as well as world. On August 6, 1945 America and the United Kingdom reached the Quebec Agreement which laid the ground work for the USA to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. The B-29 Bomber, now renamed the infamous “Enola Gay” after the mother of pilot Paul Tibbets, was accompanied by two other bombers named “The Great Artiste” and “Necessary Evil.” The aptly named “Necessary Evil” was to witness for the record the most destructive event in history.
The atomic bomb named “Little Boy” consisting of 141 pounds of Uranium 235 took approximately 45 seconds to fall from roughly 31,000 feet. Because of a crosswind the bomb missed its intended target, the Aioi bridge and instead exploded over the Shima Surgical clinic. The “Enola Gay” traveled almost 12 miles before the shock waves were felt. Today in Hiroshima there is a plaque, which denotes the exact spot where the bomb unleashed devastation. The plaque sits only a brief walk from the Atomic Dome, which is preserved to this day as a reminder as to the horrors of war.
Nagasaki unlike Hiroshima was not the initial target, nor was Aug 9 supposed be the day of the second bombing. However, due to an averse weather forecast, the original target of Kokura and its date of Aug. 11 was changed. The plane was named “Bockscar” and the Bomb “Fat man.” On route the primary target was still Kokura as “Bockscar” made three bombing runs over the city. Due to heavy black smoke emanating from Yawata Steel Works, the bomber was unable to get a clear visual on the target. With fuel running low, the pilots made the decision to move on to the secondary target, Nagasaki.
Between the two bombings at least 129,000 people died. Hiroshima and Nagaskai are the only two instances in human history that atomic weapons have been used. Shortly after the bombings on August 15, 1945 Japan announced their surrender. Foreign Affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2,1945. Today it sits in Pearl Harbor and is available to visit.