Sunday, March 8, 2009


On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, effectively ending the Second World War. This is the only story on the list given the same raking by both the public and journalists, number one. As significant as the dropping of the atomic bomb is, I thought it was interesting that WWII officially ending was not on the list. I believe that the end of WWII is in itself one of the biggest news stories of the century and deserves its own place on the list.
August 15, 1945, the day Japan officially surrendered, the front page of the Los Angeles Times triumphantly declared “PEACE! VICTORY!” with a sub-headline of “Japs Accept Allied Terms; Truman Names MacArthur to Receive Formal Surrender”. The lead is simple, yet dramatic: “Japan surrendered unconditionally tonight, bringing peace to the world after the bloodiest conflict mankind has known.”[1] The article then goes on to describe President Truman’s announcement and how the official surrender process will take place.
The article quotes Japan’s Emperor Hirohito who had addressed the people of Japan over the radio for the first time earlier that day. The article then goes on at length to describe what the next steps are in the peace process for the United States and Japan, how the public reacted to President Truman’s news, and what some of the lasting impacts of the war would be.
One point I find particularly interesting is that throughout the lengthy article, the atomic bomb is mentioned only once, and very briefly near the end of the article. However, there was one sentence on the first page of the article that seemed to briefly allude to the atomic bomb. “Thus was the ‘infamy’ of Pearl Harbor avenged…Japan had paid the full penalty for the treachery that plunged the United States into a two-front war- the costliest in all of history.” [1]
Conversely, the New York Times on August 15, 1945, looked very different. Almost half of page three is taken up by a photograph showing civilians and service men in a giant conga line on the White House lawn. The headline reads “Emperor Informs People of Defeat- As the Nation Greeted Japan’s Surrender Before and After it Became Official”. [2]
In contrast, this article has many pictures, all showing people celebrating the ending of the war. It is much shorter than the Los Angeles Times article and explains how Japan’s Emperor Hirohito surrendered. It also quotes his earlier radio address to the people of Japan.
I don’t believe that any contemporary story could begin to even compare to the sheer impact that the ending of World War II had on this country. These articles clearly demonstrate the impact that the events of August 1945, had on the country. And history tells us that there has been no comparable event in this country since in terms of the sheer relief and joy that was felt on that day.

[1] PEACE VICTORY :Japs Accept Allied Terms; Truman Names MacArthur to Receive Formal Surrender. (1945, August 15). Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File),1. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986) database. (Document ID: 412593761)
[2] EMPEROR INFORMS PEOPLE OF DEFEAT :As the Nation Greeted Japan's Surrender Before and After It Became Official. (1945, August 15). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 3. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 88279590).

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