August 10, 1945 was the date that the second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. The first, Hiroshima, was two days earlier. It was felt that just one bomb would not be enough to convince the fanatical Japanese military to surrender, since they might assume this was a one-time event and the U.S. military did not have the capability to repeat it. That thinking came to an end on August 10th, and although some of the Japanese leadership still wanted to fight to the death, the emperor Hirohito intervened and announced the unconditional surrender. Of course much debate raged over the use of the atomic bomb, but there is no doubt that thousands….and probably hundreds of thousands…of lives, both Japanese and American, were saved by avoiding a land invasion of Japan.
Nagasaki was famous long before that date as the heartland of Catholicism in Japan. It was here that 26 Jesuit priests were martyred in 1597. Today a museum stands here in memory of those martyrs and is fascinating look at the early efforts to evangelize among the Japanese. To learn more about the 26 Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki click here.