Nuclear Football

Greg Mitchell at The Nation reports on a (really a fairly bizarre) football game played in the ruins of Nagasaki on 1 January 1946, in “Football at Ground Zero: The Atom Bomb, Nagasaki, New Year’s Day, 1946”:

One of the most bizarre episodes in the entire occupation of Japan took [. . .] on January 1, 1946, in Nagasaki.

Back in the States, the Rose Bowl and other major college football bowl games, with the Great War over, were played as usual on New Year’s Day. To mark the day in Japan, and raise morale (at least for the Americans), two Marine divisions faced off in the so-called Atom Bowl, played on a killing field in Nagasaki that had been cleared of debris. It had been “carved out of dust and rubble,” as one wire service report put it.

(This really sounds like something straight outta Don DeLillo‘s End Zone [1972]).

Also, as Stuart Isett’s photography website points out, the Richland High School football team,

[i]n the fall of 1945, after an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki [. . .] changed the team’s mascot to a mushroom cloud and called themselves the “Bombers.” The plutonium that was in that bomb was manufactured by workers at nearby Hanford Nuclear Site as part of the Manhattan Project. [. . .] During the Cold War, the Hanford project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five massive plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the manufacturing process left behind 53 million U.S. gallons of high-level radioactive waste that remains at the site. Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup, providing thousands of jobs to residents in nearby towns such as Richland.

Check out some of the photos.

And, because we’re on the subject of “nuclear football,” I thought I’d include an image of the actual nuclear football: the satchel/black box/briefcase carried around near the President of the United States, the contents of which are capable of launching a nuclear attack.

Happy New Year!

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