I had lunch with my father today, and the subject of the anniversary of dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came up. My father was an 18 year old sargeant in the Counter Intelligence Corps stationed in Tokio immediately after the War. The CIC was a precursor of the CIA. His barracks was in the old Japanese Secret Police Headquarters, where the Japanese did their interrogations of captured US airmen. He had a desk on the 8th floor of the Taekoko building, which was across the street from MacArthur's HQ in the Dai Ichi Building. Each day he could look down as the Japanese gathered in the street to watch Mac drive off for lunch in his motorcade like some new emperor.
One day a couple of army buddies and he decided they wanted to see what an A-Bomb could do. My father was a clerk typist and had the travel authorization forms. He made out passes for himself and his two friends to go to Hiroshima. His CO gave him a little grief but signed off on it and off they went. Hiroshima was in the Australian sector. One of his friends was a Staff Sargeant and got to sleep in NCO quarters while my father and the other friend slept in cots in the enlisted barracks. This was about 9 months after the blast, but everything was still flat as a pancake (or vaporized). The people had to use "honey pots" to go to the bathroom as there was no running water. The people there did not seem to hate him. They were passive, maybe still in a daze. It was a surreal place. They looked around for a while then turned around and went back to Tokio.
Hopefully something as horrible as an atomic attack never will happen again. We should never forget the victims of the Hiroshima bomb. We also should remember the people like my father who would have had to land on the beaches of the Japanese home islands. How to weigh the right thing to do when in either case thousands of people will lose their lives? Certainly the leaders are charged to do what is best for their own people, and that often means overwhelming force and destruction of innocent lives. The A-Bomb saved American lives, and that is enough justification for me. That is a another tragedy of war. So much of the cost is borne by people who have no say in starting it.