On August 6, 1945, President Harry S. Truman faced the task of telling the American public, the press, and the world, that America’s war against fascism had culminated in exploding a new weapon of extraordinary destructive power over a Japanese city.
It was vital that this event be understood as a triumph of military power consistent with American decency and concern for life. Everyone involved in preparing the presidential statement over the preceding weeks—including Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project—knew that the stakes were high, for this marked the revealing of both the atomic bomb and the official narrative of Hiroshima.
When this shocking news emerged that morning nearly 75 years ago, President Truman was at sea, a thousand miles away, returning from the Potsdam conference, so the announcement took the form of a press release, a little more than a thousand words long. Shortly before eleven o’clock, an officer from the War Department arrived at the White House bearing bundles of publicity releases. Assistant Press Secretary Eben Ayers began reading the president’s announcement to about a dozen members of the Washington press corps.