Three of the most significant events in American History occurred in August of 1945, just as Nancy and I prepared to enter our freshman year at Gettysburg High School.
On August 6, 1945, President Harry Truman announced that a single bomb, more powerful than 20,000 tons of TNT, was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It was an atomic bomb, the most powerful explosive ever used in the history of warfare, and it killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.
The United States was now in a position to obliterate rapidly and completely every major industrial center in Japan, the nation that had attacked Pearl Harbor without warning on December 7, 1941.
On August 9, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, an important port and industrial center.
News of the Japanese surrender arrived in Gettysburg on Tuesday at 7:00 in the evening on August 14, 1945, and the town “went wild.” Fire sirens, factory whistles, horns and church bells sounded constantly for over a half hour, and people filled the square talking about the good news.
Nancy and I still have an original copy of the Victory Edition of the Gettysburg Times published that day. The good news was reported in three inch bold face type on the front page. The bad news appeared on page two where it was reported that 118 Adams Countians were killed or died in the service in World War II. Eight were still listed as missing in action. Hundreds were wounded and two county men were still listed as prisoners of the Japanese.
The other good news was more personal. The end of the war meant Nancy’s uncle and cousin and my father and uncle would soon be coming home.