Doris Shea Strand: "It Was a Brave Decision"
News of the dropping of the atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was met with satisfaction by many Americans, who believed that more lives were saved than were lost by hastening the end of the war. Later reflection, after the effects of the bombs were known and more clearly understood, caused many to have doubts about the use of atomic energy for warfare. Doris Shea Strand remembered the bombings in a 2002 oral history interview with Thomas Saylor.
TS: One of the reasons the Japanese surrendered so quickly was the use of atomic weapons by the United States. At the time, what did you know about the atomic weapons?
DS: Very little, actually. We were devastated to think that so many people were wiped out with it, but then as you learned more and thought about the alternatives, it was a brave decision on the part of Harry Truman. I think it was the right decision. Although you still have mixed feelings. You don't want all those innocent people to have to suffer, you know. But in war, I guess things just happen.
TS: When you say it was a good decision, what kind of factors come to your mind to help you make that decision?
DS: I think if we hadn't gone that route, we would have lost many, many more of our people and still lose a lot of the Japanese population. Just a furthering of the war effort, probably in Japan proper, as opposed to the little islands we had been picking up along through the war. I'm sure it just would have prolonged it and still would have taken a lot more American lives as well as the Japanese. It was so concentrated in [the Japanese cities of] Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was very sad.
TS: How have your feelings changed on that since 1945?
DS: I guess I still feel about the same. It was better than the alternative of prolonging the heartache and the loss of life on both sides.
Strand, Doris Shea; Thomas Saylor, Interviewer, Minnesota's Greatest Generation Oral History Project, Thomas Saylor; Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Collection, 2002.