The Enola Gay story
Legion stops museum from telling just one side of the atomic bombing story.
In response to public outcry led by The American Legion, The Smithsonian Institute announces plans to cancel “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II,” a National Air and Space Museum exhibit featuring a portion of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the war-ending bombs on Japan, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945.
Plans to present the exhibit in a way that highights the death and destruction of the U.S. bombing – without context about the years of death and destruction perpetrated by the Japanese during World War II – had led to a May 1994 American Legion resolution opposing exhibit plans as proposed. The American Legion worked with the Smithsonian for several months – including a line-by-line negotiation of the display text with American Legion National Commander William Detweiler and American Legion Internal Affairs Commission Chairman Herman Harrington – until the decision was made to cancel it. The National Air and Space Museum later plans and executes a different display of the full Enola Gay, without biased interpretation, for display at the NASM at Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Va. The historic aircraft has been shown there since 2003.