November 11, 2008
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November 11

J. Nathan Matias sent me a link to an Eastgate neighbor who found a cache of photographs of Hiroshima. They’re wonderful photographs, much better than the snapshots my dad took.

By the end of the war, my father had worked his way up to the post of division medical officer. I think he hated it. His letters seldom talk about medicine — the only good passage I remember describes an ingenious solution he found for improvising running water for showers in the Philippines when he’d been given the job in addition to other duties. After the surrender, the Army wanted to get trained eyes on the ground right away, since someday it might need to fight on an atomic battleground. And so, a few days after the Bomb, dad found himself wandering around Hiroshima with a cheap camera and stern instructions from Division to report everything, and from Corps to report nothing.

The photographs themselves are small, blurry, and foggy. I don’t know how much is aging, how much is simply lousy technique and a lousy camera, how much is radiation fogging. Everything must still have been absurdly hot.

He never talked much about it.

Roger Angell’s Class Report on the Greatest Generation.