August 6, 1945. American airmen dropped an atomic bomb – codename Little Boy – on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on this date. Three days later, on August 9, they followed it by dropping another atomic bomb, called Fat Man, over Nagasaki. It was the final large-scale wartime act of World War II. The two bombings are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.
As reported by various media, Japan marked the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing earlier today with a somber ceremony. Shizu Kambayashi of Associated Press wrote that the ceremony was:
… to honor the dead and pledges to seek to eliminate nuclear weapons. Some 50,000 people stood for a minute of silence in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the early morning blast on Aug. 6, 1945, that killed up to 140,000 people. The bombing of Nagasaki three days later killed tens of thousands more, prompting Japan’s surrender to the World War II Allies.
The video below, from Voice of America, is a photo gallery of this morning’s memorial event in Japan.
AP also reported that some 200,000 “hibakusha” – surviving victims of the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – attended this morning’s ceremony. The individuals survived the immediate effects of the blasts, but suffered the effects of radiation sickness, loss of family and friends, and discrimination, according to the United Nations.
Bottom line: On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima, Japan, following that act three day later by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9. The two bombings, which brought World War II to a close, are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.