Friends all told us that the Pacific WWII Museum was a “not-to-miss” site in Fredericksburg, TX. The internet affirmed this as a top place to visit as well. At first, it seemed peculiar that this particular museum was in this Texas town. That was before I learned that Admiral Nimitz was born and lived in this very special town in the Texas Hill Country.
He built the Pacific fleet that kept the Japanese Imperial Navy from invading the USA. By sheer providence and determination, the American forces were able to come back from the devastation at Pearl Harbor, mount an effective counter attack at Midway Island and change the course of the war.
Every Island in the march to beat back the Japanese was a costly effort both in lives and armament. Valiant men lost their lives in this intensely strategic theater of war. Then, the Japanese resistance took on a more intense vigor when allied forces battled their way on to Japanese soil.
Major Doolittle led the way with his heroic attack on the Japanese mainland with his fleet of B-25 bombers. They did not cause much actual damage but the psychological blow was incalculable. However, before American forces ever landed on the shores of Japan, they were ordered to halt their advance.
An ominous page in history now turned.
From the brilliant nuclear research of our nations’ best physicists and engineers, a new and horrible weapon was invented. The Manhattan Project set out to produce a bomb to end the war and they succeeded. A cataclysmic bomb was created. It was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A single bomb evaporated tens of thousands of people in a single blast.
These two bombs have so far been the only nuclear attacks made in human history. When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and estimated 90,000–166,000 people died. Half died in the blast and the other half died as a result of the blast in the days to come.
60,000–80,000 died in Nagasaki. The nation was rocked. All in the world was aghast at the power in this killing endeavor. The war in the Pacific ended because of these two forays into modern warfare.
Human history is forever marked by the realities of these two tactical strikes. The Emperor of Japan surrendered unconditionally. Finally, the war was over in Europe and now in the Pacific. Peace had come at such a high price in human life. May this keep us from going to war again.
photo credit: brucefong photography