Students in Global Studies class recently completed a study of World War II, perhaps the most turbulent and violent time in world history.
While most social studies classes focus on Hitler and the war against Germany, Voyagers’ students learned that it was Japan that the United States initially declared war on (after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941) and that it was also Japan that remained in the war until August 15, 1945, months after Germany surrendered. Moreover, students learned that while the atomic bomb — the most destructive weapon ever envisioned up to that point — while it was initially intended for Germany, was, in fact, used twice against Japan. The casualties were in the hundreds of thousands, and two major cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were destroyed.
Students walked through a model “ground zero,” which included photos of the carnage as well as quotes from the bomb’s opponents, proponents, and survivors. They also learned the dark chapter in American history where more than one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps for the duration of the war. Finally, they read the journals of a WWII war veteran and an activist who went to jail for resisting the draft and opposing U.S. involvement in the war.
They then were asked to put themselves in the shoes of then U.S. President Harry Truman, who took the reigns after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s untimely death, and who made the decision that would change history. This allowed them to better understand the context of the time period and the numerous pressures and factors that led to the fateful decision. While some said they backed the president’s decision, the majority said that they would not drop the bomb and look for more peaceful methods of ending the war.