Sunday marked 70 years since the United States dropped one of two atomic bombs on Nagasaki, Japan, to end World War Two. The anniversary, while remembered by many, was especially heavy on the mind of SMU history professor emeritus Jim Hopkins.
His father, Major James I. Hopkins, was a pilot and Group Operations Officer of the unit that dropped the bombs. While Hopkins does not agree that nuclear warfare was the right way to end the conflict, he said he understands why 85 percent of Americans approved the act at the time.
“As a citizen or a soldier whose views, particularly of the Japanese, had been shaped by events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bataan death march, and such bitter island campaigns as Iwo Jima, Saipan, and, particularly, Okinawa, this seemed, at last, as a way to end the terrible war,” he said.
Passionate about this part of history, Hopkins developed a course on the Manhattan Project at SMU. He said the atomic bombs were an opportunity to rethink the role of science in society.
“In a democratic society, we must embrace the responsibility to make our informed views felt on issues such as climate change and nuclear proliferation,” Hopkins added.
Hopkins will speak about the atomic bomb program at the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Spirit of ’45 event at 2 p.m. on Aug. 15.