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Sixty-four years after Hiroshima, opinion of the bombings is mixed

August 6, 2009 | 10:18 am

Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

Around the world today, people are commemorating the 64th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan.

The legacy of that act, which is credited with bringing about a swift end to World War II, is still unsettled: The nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and, three days later, in Nagasaki left a many as 220,000 Japanese dead, but by ending the war (Japan surrendered soon after), they may have spared more casualties.

Quinnipiac University recently asked more than 2,400 registered voters, "Do you think the United States did the right thing or the wrong thing by dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"

Sixty-one percent of those polled said they believed the bomb was the right thing. Twenty-two percent called it wrong. Sixteen percent were undecided.

But here's where it gets interesting.

The poll's findings suggest that Americans' opinion of the bombing depends on their age, gender, ethnicity and political groundings.

Seventy-three percent of voters older than 55 approved of the decision, and only 50% of voters ages 18 to 34 approved. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said the bombings were a good idea, and 49% of Democrats said so. Seventy-two percent of men approved and 51% of women agreed.

The poll found that only 34% of black voters and 44% of Latino voters supported the bombs, although pollsters cautioned that those numbers may not be representative because the polling sample was smaller for those groups.

What do you think?

We've put together our own (decidedly less scientific) survey. Vote in the box below and let us know.

-- Kate Linthicum

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Photo: With the gutted Atomic Bomb Dome as a backdrop, doves fly over the cenotaph of the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan. Hiroshima marks the 64th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack that devastated the city at the closing days of World War II. Credit: Shizuo Kambayashi / Associated Press

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