While looking for something else, I ran across the item I’m adding today. It commemorates an event that happened on July first, sixty-two years ago. Since the end of World War II, nuclear energy continues to be seen as either a boon to mankind, or a deadly killer. As I stated yesterday, I don’t want to get into debates on political issues. In this case I simply want to share a family heirloom.
In 1946, my brother, Bill, wrote the following letter to our parents.
July 1, 1946
Dear Mom & Dad,
Well test number one, and so far it is a little disappointing to me. However, it was something to see. The bomb was dropped at 8:59 A.M. and exploded 100 seconds afterwards. The flash came first, then a slow rumble that sounded like thunder in the distance. We were only twenty miles away, so had to cover our eyes till after the flash. After the thunder like noise we all ran to the port side of the ship in time to see the cloud of steam and particles rising after the blast. It was one of the most beautiful clouds I have ever seen and most likely will ever see, It looked like whipped cream on a sundae. It stayed a pure white for a few seconds, then light pink started showing through. It then turned into a light glowing red, which reminded me of one big glowing cinder of coal. You could also see blue and purple in it. It keeps on going higher and higher. It stayed in the sky most of the day.
It was doubtful if it was going to be dropped today or not, due to the fact that we were having rain off and on. At eight forty-five it cleared up, and had not rained up till now. The first report that came to us was that the trees on Bikini were still standing. The next we heard was from a plane seven thousand feet above Bikini. It read as follows: Nevada seemed to be undamaged; Independence had flight deck blown off, and was burning. A light blue water was seen and believed to be a ship sunk, fires on many of the ships, and island. One ship on side believed to be Jap ship. The Pensacola was left burning, one of our destroyers capsized. As far as I know, that is all the damage, but will find out tomorrow.
We dropped anchor about three miles away, and will move in close tomorrow. We could see fires when we pulled in close, which was five P.M. It is now eight P.M. and fires can still be seen on the Independence. You probably have more news on it than I do, but I have the experience of seeing it. That is all I know about it, but will see a lot more tomorrow, and will pass it on. It took the bomb one millionth of a second to explode.
Bill’s letter continued with questions about the family and neighbors and allotment checks. He also mentioned that he was one of the last men on the island prior to the bomb being dropped.
Bill died of cancer in 2002. We can’t help wondering if his being so close to all that radiation had something to do with it.