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After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was '1984' in 1945

To the editor: I was 2 years and a few days old when the ultimate terrorist instrument was dropped by my country on Japan, in the large cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, I am a few days past my 72nd birthday, and I learn from Susan Southard and The Times that my country then was in full "1984" operational mode before George Orwell's book was published and widely distributed. ("What U.S. citizens weren't told about the atomic bombing of Japan," op-ed, AUg. 7)

Even Orwell's Newspeak "war is peace" language was in use then. As Southard notes, the head of the Manhattan Project testified that death from radiation exposure is a "very pleasant way to die." If you say so, Gen. Leslie Groves.

Certainly, physicist Karl T. Compton and War Secretary Henry L. Stimson are now burdened with the historic stigma of being Newspeakers. We also get a peek into how the entire U.S. media was suborned into "silence."

What was it that Tom Brokaw told us about the Greatest Generation?

Paul DuNard Jr., Cypress

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To the editor: The dropping of the bombs on Japan may have saved my life. I was halfway across the Pacific on the way to partake in the invasion of Japan. If that invasion had taken place, a lot more lives, theirs and ours, would have been lost than the number of people who were killed by the bombs.

The Japanese people, having a very high sense of pride, would have fought to the death, as many of their soldiers did, rather than surrender. The bombs gave them a way to "save face."

Hopefully, the fear of effects outlined by Southard will keep the world from ever using these bombs again.

James T. Phillips, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Thank you for this poignant article. Now we know the damages our new weapons of mass destruction will cause.

My great aunt worked at Oak Ridge, Tenn., building circuit boards for the bomb. Of course she had no idea — she was told afterward she'd helped end the war.

Later, when the horror was finally published, she tried to forgive herself for her part of it. As late as 1999 she was still lamenting the millions of lives her orchestrated ignorance touched.

I hope more Americans never have to suffer her kind of guilt ever again.

Barbara L. Snowberger, Los Angeles

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