|THE CONTROVERSY RAISES IT'S UGLY HEAD|
Public sentiment over the atomic bombing of Japan fluctuated, as many felt we were the aggressors that bombed the innocent Japanese. The media had a field day, and was partially responsible for the turnaround in feelings. People seemed to forget the attack on Pearl Harbor. They forgot about the fanatical resistance at Iwo Jima, the Kamikaze attacks from Okinawa. They forgot the brutalization of our POW's, the numerous beheadings, the Bataan Death March. There seemed to be an emphasis on Japanese suffering, once again portraying the Americans as not really needing to drop the bomb. Why was there such an inbalance of public opinion? Was it politically motivated,or were we experiencing the Vietnam syndrome? Was it just the period of time that was changing Americans, and the rest of the world? The question persisted. Was it really necessary to drop the bomb? The very decision was now being questioned. This type of controversial thinking eventually worked it's way around to the Smithsonian bureaucracy, and the Enola became the focal point of all the dissention.
Several months after dropping the bomb the Enola was flown back to the United States. On Aug. 30, 1946, it was placed in storage and dropped from inventory. Three years later it was removed from storage and turned over to the Smithsonian for restoration and display. Little did we know what dissention and incompetence lay ahead for this "display". Apparently the Smithsonian, much to the dismay of thousands of veterans, allowed the plane to sit in storage for another 12 years. It was disassembled in 1961 and restoration not started until 1984. It would be another 11 years before it was finally put on display. During all these years the controversy raged, as WWII veterans groups voiced their objections not only to the Smithsonian handling of the project, but to the proposed manner they planned to portray the Enola . In April, 1994, the Air Force Magazine published an article which finally raised questions as to the Smithsonians intentions. Veterans rallied upon publication of this long overdue article and bombarded Congress with complaints. Apparently the Smithsonian was slanting the presentation to appear that the Japanese were the victims of a cruel American aggression. Photographs planned for the display were disproportionately sympathetic to the Japanese casualties and suffering, showing only a few American casualty photos. They planned a very emotional display showing the extreme suffering of the Japanese people. The wording was being twisted around to show the Americans bombed the Japanese as an act of vengeance and revenge. In reality they were rewriting history. Attacks on the Smithsonian were heating up, and Dr. Martin Harwit, director of the National Air and Space Museum, was on the receiving end of most of the flak. The Air Force Association and the Air Force Magazine were formidable opponents, with thousands of veterans and now Congress backing them up. The Smithsonian was questioning the morality of dropping the bomb, even suggesting maybe we should have invaded instead. Partitions of protest with thousands of signatures poured into the Smithsonian.
General Tibbets expressed his displeasure by announcing
that the "proposed display of the Enola
is a package of insults".
He said "Look at Lindberghs airplane. There it sits, or hangs, in
all it's glory. Here is the first airplane to fly the Atlantic solo. Okay.
This airplane was the first to drop the atomic bomb. You don't need any
other explanation. And I think it should be displayed alone".
As the hassle continued Congress got directly involved and sent a letter to the Smithsonian expressing it's "concern and dismay" over the slanted one sided portrayal of the Americans as aggressors in the attack. Seven Congressmen wrote to the Smithsonian to express "deep displeasure" with the proposed exhibition. The American Legion called for a cancellation of the planned exhibit and requested a Congressional investigation. Two days later the Air Force Association called for the exhibit to be cancelled. As a final blow to this escalating drama 81 members of Congress called for Martin Harwit to resign as director of the museum. On January 30, 1995, the Smithsonian cancelled the planned exhibit and began work on a new plan to display the Enola . Finally on May 2,1995, Martin Harwit resigned as director of the Air and Space Museum. Not good news for the Enola , as it was cut up in pieces, and only the forward section of the fuselage went on display for three years, closing in May of 1998. Almost four million visitors viewed the exhibit. It is appropriate to point out that none of the four historians who drafted the script were veterans of a military service. This in effect ended the Smithsonian debacle that ruffled feathers and left hard feelings in the hearts of those who cared.
Historian comment: Is this the end of the battle? Not really. What did we learn from these years of dispute? It is obvious the Smithsonian used the wrong people to script the display of the Enola . The mission of the Smithsonian is to collect, preserve, and display historic aircraft. They mixed politics and emotions and made a complete sideshow of the project. Was it to appease the many Japanese visitors? Each of us will have his own personal opinion. Martin Harwit, in his forced retirement, wrote a book denying he had done anything improper. He blames the Air Force Association and the Air Force Magazine as the primary cause of his downfall. May I again urge anyone seeking full authoritative coverage to go to . As to the controversy, for the complete day by day coverage go to www.afa.org. This is the web site of the best written literature I have ever read, thanks to the Editor In Chief, John T. Correll. Veterans are so fortunate to have an organization like this serving as a watch dog. This story is expressed in my own words, a very brief interpretation of an unfortunate event. There are numerous incidents left out due to trying to keep the report brief. I will let the AFA.org supply you with the "politically correct" version. I do not have verification of the following report, however I will pass it along. The Enola was only displayed for three years [in pieces] I understand it is due to be fully assembled and displayed at the UDVAR-HAZY Center south of Dulles Airport in December 2003. Lets hope they learned to present it this time without distorting history.
Story and comments written by Wayland Mayo, web site historian. All views expressed are strictly his personal opinion