Angel Portillo

Why Today Matters

Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears in the Tuesday Midweek edition of Carroll County News. He can be reached at aporae@gmail.com.


Aug. 14, 1945: The day that truly ended World War II

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

During the bloody conflict of World War II, the United States and the Allied Forces first focused on defeating Germany and its European allies.

After they surrendered by the end of April 1945, the war was not over yet. Japan was the remaining enemy, and it would take a little more than three months before the U.S. would finally defeat Japan and thus end the war.

Aug. 14, 1945, also known as VJ Day (Victory over Japan Day), is a crucial date because this is when the violence stopped. This was the day that the bloody struggle known as World War II ended. After this date, things would never be the same for the entire world.

Before Japan would surrender, however, there were some decisions that the United States had to make in order to bring the Asian nation down. The U.S. was facing a dilemma: to send soldiers to fight in Japan or to use the newly created atomic bomb and kill thousands of Japanese without taking any American casualties.

For sure, I would have not liked to be in Harry Truman's shoes in those moments. It was a very difficult decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The President's logic was that many American lives would be saved, and that the war would be over very quickly. He was right, and it is no exaggeration that the war would likely have lingered a year or so longer if Americans had been sent to fight in Japan.

The decision was made and on Aug. 6, American airmen dropped "Little Boy" (which carried the deadly bomb) on Hiroshima. Three days later, "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki. In both cities, more than 200,000 residents died as a result of the explosions. Thousands more followed from the effects of radiation. These numbers were terrifying and it was very sad indeed. This is the price that was paid for ending the war.

Five days after Nagasaki, Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's surrender to the Allies. It was over. All the towns and cities in the United States rejoiced at this news. They were tired of the fighting.

Aug. 14, 1945, is one of the most important dates in history, and it is one that we should all have in mind. A new chapter began for the world and for everyone.

Without a doubt, this event that happened almost 70 years ago is still touching our lives.