NEW YORK — When Mark Hatfield, who had served as a U.S. Senator from Oregon for three decades, died in early August, obituaries noted that he was one of the first U.S. soldiers to visit Hiroshima not long after the atomic bombing of the city, and that experience led him to work for nuclear arms control later, after he became a Senator.
As it happened, the day of Hatfield’s death, Aug. 7, fell between the day the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the day it did on Nagasaki, in 1945.
His death occurred, in fact, when an annual round of commentaries on those deeds were appearing. Among them, the historian Gar Alperovitz wrote to point out that “the vast majority of top American military leaders in all three services” argued after the war that the U.S. “did not need to use the atomic bomb to end the war against Japan in 1945” (“On the Sixty-Sixth Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima”).