Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Refurbished Enola Gay

This article from the Herald Sun raises an interesting quandary. It’s about some protestors who objected to the exhibition of the newly-restored Enola Gay. Among the activists were six people who survived the nuclear blast at Hiroshima:

Two men were arrested after a bottle of red paint, meant to symbolise blood, was thrown, denting a panel on one side of the plane – parked in a new annex to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. One was charged with destruction of property, while the other faces loitering charges, police said. “This is the second time I have seen the Enola Gay,” said Hiroshima survivor Minoru Nishino, 71, who was two kilometres from the centre of the blast, and still bears the scars.

I see the merit in both points of view. For the museum, this is a historically important artifact that should be preserved for future generations. For the survivors, it’s the symbol of mass murder and the harbinger of the nuclear age.

It’s all about context. the article goes on to say that “survivors are disappointed the plane is being displayed with no reference to casualty figures at Hiroshima.” The text accompanying the plane indicates that it “found its niche on the other side of the globe”. Found its niche indeed. Clearly, the exhibit should be accompanied by some material on the destruction this plane visited on the people of Japan.

It’s noteworthy that they refurbished the thing. In my museum, I’d leave it to rust and moulder, in the hopes that people might come to associate it with a bygone era.

5 Responses to “The Refurbished Enola Gay”

  1. d

    I agree that there should be a sign along side it that explains what it was used for. We shouldn’t NOT display it, though… I think it’s important that we remember these events, in hopes that we won’t repeat those mistakes.

  2. marting

    The Enola Gay exhibit must be the ultimate so far in respect of tech-porn. No single object could even come close to the ?difference it made / time? quotient. Perhaps the Smithsonian could build a replica of ?Little Boy? to show as well. ( maybe they have one , I?ve never been there ) The fact that they neglected to mention the vapourisation of a few tens of thousands of people, and the fact that there are now some eight thousand or so similar devices ( only fifty years more modern and , er, somewhat bigger ) on a hair trigger awaiting some buffoon?s instruction, ( or an operating system glitch ) is obviously an unintentional oversight. The museum directors will get up to speed eventually. They?ve only had fifty years or so . . .

  3. Jeff

    I don’t think an OS glitch could trigger a nuclear launch. From my understanding – the system to launch a nuclear weapon requires a certain level of physical intervention, keys and codes etc. Another fortunate thing, alot of ICBMs are really old themselves. George Bush Sr took signifigant steps to move the nuclear launch system away from hair-trigger readiness during his presidency also.

    My thoughts on this display – yeah, they should have SOMETHING about how many people died. That’s what it was all about in the end.

  4. KevinG

    Refurbish it and display it. That way people can be outraged and protest the display thus keeping the memory alive. Kind of a symbiotic relationship.

    It’s one of the few ways to remind ourselve that we are cavalier about the cost of war in our own time but happily grieve the errors of the past.

  5. Ted

    Hey, it shortened the war by many months, it saved countless American lives. the japanese where ready to fight to the last civilian.

    I think you miss the point, saving lives was the reason it was used . period.

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