Most of us are aware that in 1945 America dropped two atomic bombs on civilian cities in Japan, to expedite the surrender of that country, in effect ending WWII. Without diving into the hornets nest of whether or not the incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified (a question that turns, morally, on the likelihood of a Japanese surrender without that most excessive use of force) I think it's important to consider seriously the devastation wrought. This is a responsibility that is uniquely ours. To say nothing of the immediate cessation of some 250,000 lives, the ripple effects in Japanese society for the radiation scarred survivors have gone largely unexplored. Below is a selection of photographs taken in the aftermath of the two detonations, which shed some light on the scope of the ruin visited on those cities. As Americans, whether or not we think we were wholly justified in causing those twin atrocities, we owe it to ourselves to take a long look at the absolute destruction we left behind. The legacy of nuclear weapons turned on civilian populations is, at least for the moment, only ours. We cannot shrink from it.