Oak Ridge, Tennessee (JFK+50) Seventy years ago today, August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. That bomb had been constructed at Los Alamos, New Mexico, but the Uranium 235 which fueled it came from the Y-12 plant here in Oak Ridge.
In today's Knoxville News-Sentinel, Frank Munger writes that in June 1945, Y-12 officials were given orders to..."scrape together every last bit of enriched uranium and deliver it to...Los Alamos."
The work at Y-12, which had begun in mid-1943, involved separation of the isotopes of fissionable uranium or U-235 from the dominant U-238 isotopes.
The first shipments of U-235 from Oak Ridge to Los Alamos came in March 1945.
The journey was indirect for security reasons. The shipments first went to Chicago and then to New Mexico.
Security was so air tight in those days that even the very word uranium was not spoken out loud. Of the 22,000 employees at Y-12, Mr. Munger says that "maybe only 100" knew of the significance of the order to deliver the enriched uranium to Los Alamos. Also, most of the workforce at Oak Ridge did not actually know the nature of the work being done there.
The development of the atomic bomb came as a result of the Manhattan Project initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who died on April 12, 1945 leaving the final decision on using the atomic weapon with his successor.
It was estimated that the radius of total destruction extended 1 mile with 69% of the city's buildings destroyed. 70,000 to 80,000 people were killed with 170,000 more injured.
President Harry S Truman issued the following statement in his announcement of the use of the atomic bomb on Japan:
"If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like which has never been seen on this earth."
Most folks back in Oak Ridge picked up the Knoxville News-Sentinel seventy years ago today and saw this headline in 5" letters...
ATOMIC SUPER-BOMB, MADE AT OAK RIDGE, STRIKES JAPAN
"Y-12's A-bomb role: Oak Ridge plant produced material for 'Little Boy.'" by Frank Munger, Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 6, 2015.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT SIGNED 50 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law fifty years ago today, August 6, 1965.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits discriminatory voting practices which had been adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests, as a prerequisite to voting.
Attending the signing ceremony were civil rights leaders and activists including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.
By the end of 1965, 250,000 new black voters had been registered, one-third by federal examiners.
COCONUT MESSAGE SAVED THE DAY FOR JFK
Naru Island (JFK+50) Seventy-two years ago today, August 6, 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy paddled back to his men on Olasana in a dugout canoe. Barney Ross, who remained asleep, swam over later.
JFK, according to Robert Donovan, decided to send the two friendly natives, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, with a message to the PT Base.
Without paper or a writing instrument, Lt. Kennedy..."picked up a coconut and had Biuku quarter it." JFK then...
"took his sheath knife and on a polished quarter of the coconut he inscribed the following message to the PT base commander:
'NAURO ISL - COMMANDER - NATIVE KNOWS POSIT - HE CAN PILOT - 11 ALIVE - NEED SMALL BOAT- KENNEDY'"
"PT 109, John F. Kennedy in WWII," by Robert J. Donovan, McGraw-Hill Publishers, New York, 1961, 2001.