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February 7, 1995 - 7th Grade


On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. By early 1942, major countries were involved. This war would be called World War II.

Out of all the terrible things that happened in this war, there was only one that stood out from the others. The dropping of the first atom bomb used on a military target to kill human life. This would be the start of the atomic age.

Scientist Leo Szilard and scientist Albert Einstein were the only people that knew that such a weapon could be built. They told President Roosevelt that the German´s might be building some kind of bomb. So Roosevelt decided that he would want America to build the bomb first.

Later America found out that Germany was not building it. So Roosevelt went on to build it anyway. Albert Einstein disagreed because he knew that such a weapon could be built and it would be very powerful. They went on with building it anyway. They called the project "The Manhattan Project."

On December 2, 1942 the University of Chicago´s Stagg Field invented the first man-made nuclear chain reaction. They already knew that it would be fueled with uranium. When it was all finished it was ten feet long, two feet four inches high and weighed 9,000 pounds. They tested it on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico in the middle of the desert. Sand beneath the blast melted and fused into glass from the intense heat. The mushroom cloud was three times hotter than the sun.

August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m. a normal day in a town called Hiroshima, a city on the south coast of Honshu Island. The seventh-largest city in Japan, with a population of 350,000, until then was virtually undamaged. A B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets circled overhead ready to drop the bomb. The people down below had no idea that they were going to be the the first city to be hit by this unthought of weapon. This bomb destroyed 4.7 square miles. The mushroom cloud rose 20,000 feet above in a white blaze. Everything from a 6,000 to 8,000 foot radius was destroyed. 98% of buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. Everything went from a nice sunny day into a black gloomy nightmare. The Colonel piloting the Enola Gay commented as he watched down below, "My god what have we done?"

71,379 people were killed, injured, or missing. People´s shadows were burned into walls and stairs like ghostly images from the bright glare and the intense heat. People were literally vaporized. (Five years later, thepeople that survived would suffer from atomic radiation sickness.) The exposure to the bomb was believed to induce radiation mutations in eggs and sperm that would condemn the survivors´ children (not even conceived at the time of the bomb) to birth defects, mental deficits and cancers. That means that their children will probably be affected by the radiation and on and on it will go on through their family for a long time. They will be affected by the bomb when they are in their 50s they will suffer the consequences.

Three days later an atomic bomb was dropped on a city not far away. This city was called Nagasaki on the west coast of the Kyushu island, Japan. With a population of 250,000. This bomb was built for more destruction. It was 10,000 pounds, ten feet eight inches long, and five feet high. 60,000 people were killed in this bombing and many later died by injuries.

The first atomic bomb did not convince the Japanese to surrender but the second one did on September 2, 1945.

People thought nothing would grow back, but within a couple months plants were sprouting and reconstruction went under way. Today Hiroshima is rebuilt and the people are going on with their lives like they used to, but they will always remember that horrible day.

America had one decision to make for an end to the war: invade Japan or drop an atomic bomb, I guess America wanted to show Japan what a powerful country they were.

This very small and crude device killed 70,000 people in one blow. Just imagine what we can build today and how many innocent lives would be taken.