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Anniversary No One Wants to Remember

Wildflowers – Summer 2019

Friday will be the anniversary of one of the most sensational mass murders in United States history.

While the Aug. 9, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan was far worse in terms of premeditation, number of human deaths, and physical destruction, I’m talking about the 50th anniversary of the murders of actress Sharon Tate and friends, followed the next night by the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

I’d be willing to bet major news media coverage mentions the Tate-LaBianca murders and not Nagasaki. We’ll see grainy images of the late Charles Manson whose colleagues committed the crimes. Then the narrative will move on, perhaps to one of the president’s posts in social media, or some both-sider discussion of administration policy.

No one was prosecuted for the bombing of Nagasaki, even though it was the greater crime. Who will even remember Nagasaki other than nuclear abolition advocates and the few remaining people who were there?

Here is bomber co-pilot Fred Olivi’s account of his experience dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki:

Suddenly, the light of a thousand suns illuminated the cockpit. Even with my dark welder’s goggles, I winced and shut my eyes for a couple of seconds. I guessed we were about seven miles from “ground zero” and headed directly away from the target, yet the light blinded me for an instant. I had never experienced such an intense bluish light, maybe three or four times brighter than the sun shining above us.

I’ve never seen anything like it! Biggest explosion I’ve ever seen…This plume of smoke I’m seeing is hard to explain. A great white mass of flame is seething within the white mushroom shaped cloud. It has a pinkish, salmon color. The base is black and is breaking a little way down from the mushroom.

One would think the “light of a thousand suns” eclipses sensational coverage of a gruesome murder binge fifty years ago. We’ll see if major news outlets see it the same way on Friday.