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Ryan Collins
Professor Padgett
ENGL 101
October 14, 2015
The Necessities of War
December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the beginning of the end for the
nation of Japan in World War II. In what seems like such an abstract happening becomes a reality
in the viewers mind when seeing the the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki challenges the ethical mindset of the United States
Military in judging what is deemed necessary to win a war.
The first picture shown in A Photo-Essay on the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
depicts a ginormous mushroom cloud believed to have climbed sixty thousand feet into the air in
about ten minutes. The horizon in the background gives a sense of depth where the earth seems
to drop off into a dark abyss of nothingness. The distance of the picture being taken eighty
kilometers away gives a great sense of the pure destruction caused by such a lethal weapon. The
sense of hopelessness that comes along with the mushroom cloud makes it seem as if in this
moment nothing else matters. The realization that this ginormous cloud was not created by
condensation but by explosives and lethal gases. The black and white color of the photograph
adds to the dreariness of the photo giving a sense of awe due to the gigantic size of the
mushroom cloud. The black and white coloring adds to the texture of the photography adding to
the old age of the photograph. The pure shape of the mushroom cloud adds the effect of terror
throughout the photograph as well. The viewer gets a sense of how beautiful of a day August 6,
1945 started out due to the fact of there being hardly a cloud in the sky. Theres a bit of irony due

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to it being such a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky and in minutes it has changed
into a dreadful dreary day cloud covered with ashes and gasses instead of beautiful white clouds.
Understanding what happened and looking at the picture makes one think how could anyone
survive such an attack with such brutal force.
The two proceeding pictures show the shear devastation caused by the atomic bombs
dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The alignment of the barren trees gives a sense of utter
hopelessness for all life living within the area. In both pictures the mountains in the distance
gives the viewer a sense of how much catastrophic destruction was caused. It can be assumed
from the angles of the pictures taken one most likely would be incapable of seeing the mountain
range so fully. The color of the pictures adds a distinct feature to the destruction because
everything destroyed was once part of something. Mangled pieces of debris such as: metal,
bricks, columns, every day housing supplies are seen throughout the once living streets. The vast
sense of space created and left behind leaves one feeling empty on the inside. Seeing the
destruction first hand makes one question the morality of the situation and furthermore the
necessity of such an attack on innocent people.
The picture of the mangled little girl caught my eye as the most striking and meaningful
picture of the entire photo essay due to her shear innocence. Most Americans see this attack as a
way to win the war against Japan, but when truly looking at the situation it is clear that no
Japanese soldiers are being killed only innocent women and children. This picture of her
mangled body with skin peeling of her body like one would with an orange. This picture strikes
home even with its lack of color because of the sense of shear pain that this young girl must be
experiencing. This picture brings one to think what did such an innocent young girl do to deserve
such a brutal suffering. Looking at this picture there gives the sense of an invisible line between

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human and unhuman. When looking at this picture it forces one to think about what truly
happened at the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the moral standpoint behind it. The
viewer must understand who truly became harmed by these attacks, young children like this girl
who did nothing to deserve such a cruel treatment.
When looking further down at the tenth and eleventh photo one gets the sense that a
major battle taken place upon this land. The shape and texture of this photo gives the sense of a
desolate waste land which must have been inhabited for years. The cruel reality of the situation
remains the same, innocent lives were taken from powerful political and military figures. The
men standing in the picture give the pictures a sense of proximity and perception of how
catastrophic the atomic blast truly was. The black and gray adds that sense of dreariness and
hopelessness to the picture as well. With the dark black areas representing the smoke thats rising
from the ashes of where innocent people used to live. Understanding how many people were
killed and harmed by the atomic bomb and then to actually see it in pictures are two completely
different things. One might hear about the amount of people killed, but in an unconscious way
one looks at the bombing as almost just a numbers and do not put a face to each number. This
picture shows the contrary because the horrific destruction that has taken place does not just
wipe out buildings, statues, and roads it takes out young women and children as well, all
Going along with the thought process of civilians being injured in the finally three
pictures one can see men, women, and children all torn to pieces. The body on the bottom all
charred from the explosion most likely was never identified. In a way one turns somewhat
unhuman because when there is no face to your body and your clothes are tattered like a
homeless person you become less of a human to other people. This image forces the viewer to

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put themselves in the shoes of these victims and makes one wonder what would it have been like
if I had gone through such and ordeal. We also know now that not only was there destruction
during 1945 but there still continues to be problems due to the radiation that caused many birth
defects and mutations throughout generations. Not to mention the destruction of the soil once
used for farming their own goods that was then contaminated with the radiation from the bombs.
The overall morality of the situation becomes evident after viewing all of the pictures
throughout the photo essay. The destruction and devastation caused by the atomic bombs no
longer remains at numbers game, but a harsh reality. A face can be put to a number impacted by
the blasts and it makes one realize the pure inhumanness that took place. The photographs make
one question the ethical mindset of military leaders of the United States. One thinks to
themselves why such actions had to be taken place in order to win the war. At the end of the day
nothing can be done about the situation taken place, the United States must live with the actions
and suffer the consequences of taking so many innocent lives.