After Nagasaki, the U.S. Did Not Choose Peace

On August 9, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, I attended a ceremony at Ashley Pond, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This is the place, geographically, where the first atom bombs were constructed.

As I prepared my remarks, I realized a personal connection that had never registered before. On this date in 1945, our military bombed Nagasaki. Precisely nine months later, on May 9, 1946, I was born. I have tried to imagine how my parents, stationed at an Army Air Force base in Texas on that day, must have felt. Perhaps there was some hope for peace; time to get on with their lives, start a family, and conceive their first child.

Unfortunately, peace is not the direction the U.S. chose to take after World War II. I say “chose,” because war is not a natural phenomenon like a hurricane or pandemic—it is aberrant human behavior. It requires thought, planning, public support, resource allocation, training, and implementation.

The U.S. has bombed no less than thirty countries since the end of World War II, killing millions of people, maiming tens of millions more, disrupting and destroying education, healthcare, housing, businesses, infrastructure, the environment, and creating untold numbers of refugees. Since 1946, no other country has killed and injured more people living outside its borders.

If people refuse to support, fund, kill, or participate in the process at any level, there can be no war. We must change the course that our country has chosen to take during much of its existence. We need to reset and have a fresh start. If you want peace, your first obligation should be to demand that your own country stop destabilizing, invading, occupying, and bombing other countries.

Join the US Peace Memorial Foundation and help us to honor Americans who stand for peace. We publish the US Peace Registry, award the US Peace Prize, and are fundraising for the US Peace Memorial in Washington, DC. We recognize thoughtful and courageous Americans and U.S. organizations that have taken a public stand against one or more U.S. wars or have devoted their time, energy, and other resources to finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts. We celebrate these role models to inspire other Americans to speak out against war and to work for peace.


Michael D. Knox, PhD is the founder and chair of the US Peace Memorial Foundation and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida. @DrMichaelDKnox