HIROSHIMA PROGRAMS--Our contemporary remembrances--the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War and so on--increasingly evoke sadness. Hiroshima is no exception.
That sorrow is unrelated to the abrupt ending of the war with Japan, which was a joyous occasion whose euphoria was shared by most of the world. When the U.S. bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, however, it also marked the unleashing of a terrible demon that today threatens us with extinction.
Above all, that is what we remember this week, at a time when the atomic terror has become the nuclear terror and when the United States and the Soviet Union still cannot come together on a way to control the demon.
The 40th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing is the "cover story" on the premiere of NBC's monthly "American Almanac" magazine at 10 p.m. Tuesday (Channels 4, 36, 39). Roger Mudd anchors and Connie Chung is contributing correspondent on the new program, which will profile surviving crew members of the A-bombing B-29, before moving on to other segments.
Getting a jump at 10 p.m. Monday is a segment of "The Nature of Things" on KCET (Channel 28), featuring an interview with Philip Morrison, one of the creators of the atom bomb.
In fact, most of this week's Hiroshima programs are on KCET, including the three-hour "Hiroshima Remembered" at 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Channels 15, 24 and 50 also will air it at 8 p.m.) Among its components is the acclaimed 90-minute documentary "The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb," which first aired on public TV in 1981. "Hiroshima Remembered" also will include same-day satellite coverage of commemorative ceremonies in Hiroshima and a film showing paintings and drawings by survivors of the bombing.
"What Do Children Think of When They Think of the Bomb?" is slotted for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on KCET. "The Woman Who Kept a Secret," a half-hour program focusing on the former gatekeeper at Los Alamos, site of the bomb-developing Manhattan Project, gets a late-night showing at 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
KCET has two Hiroshima-related half-hour shows scheduled for Friday. "Living Double Lives," about the psychological effects of the nuclear threat, is to begin at 7:30 p.m. And "Carl Sagan: The Nuclear Winter," the noted scientist's projected aftermath of nuclear war, is another late-nighter, starting at 12:30 a.m.
"Thirty Years to Justice," the story of Utah ranchers whose lives were changed forever by the bomb, airs at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Thus, the week holds many memories for those who lived through those times . . . and for those who didn't, perhaps a shock and a new perspective.