Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 9th, Historically Speaking

Today is the 60-year anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb nicknamed Fat Man on Nagasaki. Nagasaki wasn't the original target of the bomb. Kokura was the primary target. But when heavy cloud cover made it impossible for the bombadier to zero in on a target, the industrial area outside of Nagasaki was chosen instead. The Japanese later coined the phrase, "Kokura's luck" to characterize a near-miss situation. Undoubtedly, though, the citizens of Kokura must have suffered some significant ill effects due to the proximity to Nagasaki. Though Fat Man was the bigger of the two bombs, it did less damage and caused less initial casualty because it was dropped on the outskirts of the city (39,000 to Hiroshima's 80,000). Still, nearly 40,000 people is the size of a small American city, and the idea that so many people were wiped from the face of the earth in a fraction of a second is stunning and saddening.

This time, though I had to dig for it, I did find a CNN article on the memorial. I guess you can only get so much mileage out of Cindy Sheehan, prison breaks and Discovery landings before you actually have to report on world news.

Today is another, less monumental but no less tragic anniversary. On this day, in 1969, Sharon Tate, her unborn child, three house guests, and a young man visiting her groundskeeper were killed by the Manson family in the house on Cielo Drive. I remember sitting across from my mother at the International House of Pancakes, looking at the photos as she read the news coverage inside. My mother never read at the table, so I knew that this was something especially horrendous. The discovery over time that it was the senseless act of a bunch of brainwashed, stoned kids who freely followed a psychotic middle-aged ex-con only added to the intense horror. It was my awakening to the potential of humans to perpetrate tremendous evil.

So, today we commemorate two events that, in their own ways, altered the way perceive each other and regard each other.


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