I looked out my window at the clear Arizona sky noting that no clouds were visible anywhere.
I remembered some long-term residents of Kingman describing the mushroom clouds visible north of Las Vegas.
It is strange to live within sight of the Nevada atomic test area as I read about the coming anniversary of President Harry Truman's decision to drop the "bomb" on Japan.
That may be the most controversial decision ever made by a president.
Old Harry must of agonized over the pros and cons.
He is famous for saying "The buck stops here" and never backed away from the difficult choices.
We like to analyze history within today's context.
In the abstract discussion of the decision nearly 60 years later, it is easy to find reasons to criticize Truman's decision.
Killing innocent people, if there are such in a war, is always difficult to justify.
Would you consider the millions of Americans who built ships, planes, tanks and munitions for our fighting troops in World War II "innocents?" I doubt Japan and Germany would have.
Many people were killed in Germany by a daily onslaught of high altitude bombers dropping small, conventional explosives.
Ball bearing and tank factories were special targets.
Many cities in Germany were leveled and non-combatants killed.
German bombers made daily runs over London that destroyed civilian neighborhoods and killed innocents.
Nazi concentration camps starved and gassed more than six million innocent civilians during the WW II years.
Yet, the horror some Americans most criticize is the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
Younger generations have no understanding of the ruling regimes in Germany and Japan who took power in the 1930s.
It is even difficult for those who personally experienced the horrors of WW II to remember what Japan and Germany were like under that warmongering leadership.
Maybe the atomic bombs would have been unnecessary if the world had decided that a "regime change" was needed in Germany in the 1930s.
Maybe history would be different if world opinion had focused on Hitler's mass murders in concentration camps and nations had taken action.
Instead, Joseph Kennedy had numerous state dinners with Hitler and his Nazi rulers.
As ambassador to England, Kennedy kept telling President Franklin Roosevelt that Hitler was not a danger to anyone.
English rulers insisted that Hitler was no threat and peace could be negotiated with him.
Leaders in Europe stood by while Hitler invaded country after country with his tanks and Panzer Divisions.
Peace supporters in the U.S.
insisted that our country had no business getting involved n a neighborhood brawl in Europe.
Without the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that forced the U.S.
into WW II, we might all be living in a world ruled by successors of these WW II regimes in Japan and Germany!
One unexpected and often overlooked outcome of Truman's decision to drop the two bombs on Japan was the deterrent to any further use of the weapon.
Russia and the U.S.
stared across two oceans at one another.
We rattled our sabers but kept them in the scabbard.
The one time use of atomic weapons convinced both sides that only the worst of circumstances could justify a second use.
Today, we are threatened not be super powers, but renegade leaders and outlaw regimes.
Even a group not controlled by any recognized government could acquire atomic weapons and hold any country hostage.
Another forgotten piece of atomic history is the role of German scientists in the development.
Those who escaped Hitler's rule and came to the U.S.
were helpful in developing the weapon in time to drop it on Japan.
The world is fortunate Hitler did not get there first.
No one doubts that he would have dropped as many atomic bombs as he could if his plans had been successful before the Nazis were defeated.
Was it necessary to drop a bomb to end the conflict with the Japanese?
Actually, it was necessary to drop TWO atomic bombs!
Truman first gave Japan the opportunity to surrender prior to dropping the first bomb.
He ordered the first atomic bomb and gave them another chance.
Again, Japan would not surrender and the second bomb was ordered.
That ended a bloody fight from island to island from near Australia to Okinawa that would have included invasion of Japan and greater loss of life on both sides.
Our armed forces that served in the Pacific can tell you how difficult it was to take every foot of sand and jungle across the Pacific Ocean.
As General Sherman marched across Georgia in the latter days of the American Civil War, he said, "War is Hell!"
Who could disagree?
But, freedom is lost when a few good men refuse to make the difficult decision to stand up against those who would take that freedom away.
I thank President Harry Truman for making the decision that ended WW II and has kept the world out of major conflict for 60 years.
And I pray the world never sees another such weapon used.