Opinions About the Bomb

As many Americans saw it, the end of the war was hastened by the detonation of two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For many Americans, much like John Willey and Cynthia V. Ramsey, the decision saved American soldiers from enduring a “bloodbath” in Japan. Others were shocked by the horrific destruction the bombs left in their wake and questioned whether there were alternative— and less destructive—strategies to have brought the war to an end.

Confidence in Roosevelt and Truman’s Decision to Drop the Bombs—John Willey

I had an awful lot of confidence, I was born and raised a Republican but everybody liked Roosevelt. They never showed anything degrading about Roosevelt. Everybody knew he was paralyzed but you never saw a picture of him leaning on his crutches, either behind the podium or sitting down or something– everybody liked Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt {inaudible}. And when he died I just thought I’m never gonna get home, you know. I thought that Old Harry Truman was a weak sister and would God bless him {laughter} he made the decision and as far as I’m concerned the right one. It would’ve been a forever bloodbath if we had gone in and tried to occupy.

Hearing of the Atomic Bomb—Cynthia V. Ramsey

I was on KP, peeling potatoes. KP means kitchen, kitchen, I don’t remember. Anyway, I was cutting, peeling potatoes or something like that when the atom bomb was dropped. And I’ll never forget how happy we all were. By that time my husband was on his way; he was in the Pacific Ocean on his way to invade Japan. And none of those boys would have survived, I think. So I was very happy when the bomb was dropped, saving so many of our lives.

How’d you hear about it while peeling potatoes?

Well, it wasn’t until I got off, got out of there. People were all talking about it. I heard it from others. I didn’t read newspapers then, I don’t believe, and we didn’t have a radio either. But, other people read newspapers and had radios.

End of the War—Mary Dougherty Wood

I remember VE Day very well — that was terribly exciting. I was not in an exciting place. I was in Centreville which wasn’t very exciting to me. It wasn’t like those pictures you see in cities with everybody kissing everybody. And then, VJ Day. I do remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the two bombs going off — the horror of that.

Well, you were terribly led. Well, of course the surrender of Japan didn’t come until a while after that. So you didn’t know. And it was all kind of horrifying, the idea of this awful thing — the mushroom cloud and all that stuff. The surrender in Japan in a way, I think it might have been like an anti-climax. It was really over. I mean, the war was really over. I guess it wasn’t if people had been shot afterwards but you knew who was going to win by then.

Atomic Bombs on VJ Day—Helen Tyson

HT: I don’t remember them specifically, but I remember everybody saying, ‘The war is over! The war is over!’ And ‘Oh yippeedoodles’ And then we would hear, well there was a little fight here where the people had not yet heard that the war was over and people were killed. We didn’t hear much about prisoners of war. At least as a child, I did not hear much about prisoners of war. But when it was over, some of that started to leak out, that there were still people over in Europe who had not been released. Of course, the atomic bomb was such big news that we heard an awful lot about the damage in Japan, or Hiroshima, because of that bomb. And you know, many years later, Bob [my husband] and I went to Pearl Harbor as a tour, and we stopped at a museum for Hiroshima, and they had in the museum a stone lintel, maybe a foot by two-and-a-half feet, and there were marks on it. And they said they’ve begun to fade now, but what had happened was somebody had been sitting there when the bomb exploded, and material from the body was soaked into the concrete, and stained it. It was kind of eerie to think that somebody’s tissues were on that stone. We didn’t hear that much gory stuff during the war. after the war. But, we did hear a lot of people disfigured. And certainly many years later the effects of the chemicals on the genes so that they had deformed children. I think to this day they still are suffering the effects of that.

MD: At the time, the United States [citizens] supported the droppings of the two bombs?

HT: Oh, yeah. Yes. We’d already been hearing that bombs had been dropping. On the newsreels, they would frequently show a plane with bombs going ‘weeoo’. So the atomic bomb, to me, was just another bomb, and I was glad that it ended the war. But I did not realize that it was radioactive, that it did damage as extensive as it really did.